After my first husband, David, died in a car accident, people asked if I was angry at God. My response was always, no.
At the time, I translated anger with God to mean I was accusing Him of injustice. But I didn’t feel like God had done anything wrong. I knew David was a gift to me. If God chose to take my husband, that was His prerogative as Father and Creator. “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
But I did feel distant from Him. I would hear a word or two from God in my spirit from time to time, but it wasn’t the same intimacy I enjoyed with Him before. I wondered if I was being punished. Or perhaps I didn’t have enough faith to please Him. Maybe God was leaving me? My heart sank at the thought.
I was afraid my doubts would make our distance greater, so I was ashamed to admit my struggles to the Father. But the silence became deafening. I cried out one lonely night, “God, why don’t I hear from You anymore? Where are You? Why have You abandoned me in my darkest hour? Why aren’t you speaking to me?”
In that moment, God spoke to my heart, “You are not speaking to me.”
At first, I didn’t understand. I was desperate for His love, His companionship, His yoke. As Jesus said, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). I needed Him more than ever. But then, in my mind, the Father showed me a picture of what was going on in my heart.
A Father and His daughter
Imagine a teenage girl just got the news from her father that the family is moving far away. The girl is furious, full of fears and concerns. What will happen to her friendships? Will she fit in at her new school?
The father hasn’t made this decision out of discipline or punishment or anger. As the leader of the household, his judgment is simply what’s best for the family. Even though the daughter knows all of this, she is still upset. She runs to her room, slams the door, and lies on her bed crying.
The father sits in his chair, waiting for his little girl to come out to talk to him. Every now and then, he might knock on the door to remind her he’s concerned for her. But he doesn’t force her to come out. He lets her throw her tantrum until she’s ready to be in communication again, patiently waiting for her to return to his arms.
That was exactly how I felt. I didn’t want this new life. I wanted to be married to the man I loved, who loved me, and for everything to be calm and normal again. My children needed their father. And I was doing everything in my power to try to fix it … without God’s help.
But God was waiting patiently for me to come to my senses. I was not abandoned by Him. We were in no danger of undoing our relationship. We were still in the same house, still a family. And when I was ready to open up, He was there to hold me in His arms and comfort me.
Opening the door
When I realized the real problem was my attitude, I repented. I walked out of the “bedroom” of my heart and surrendered to God’s will. I finally admitted, “I have been angry and resistant to Your will, and I’m ready to accept Your plans for my life.” The barrier to my relationship with God was taken down, and we were in fellowship again.
Since then, I’ve heard many stories of believers who struggle with various forms of grief. They suffer from rejection, infertility, divorce, affairs. I can see their anger with God, but few want to admit it. I think it’s because we know our hope of salvation from such a devastation can only come from God. And like me, children of God are afraid their anger will be punished. So we deceive ourselves into believing it’s not there.
But God is not a vindictive, lightning-bolt dictator with a bad temper. God says He is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6). He has more grace than we can imagine, always desiring our full restoration. And because Christ was fully man and fully God, He identifies with our struggles. Our Lord is not without understanding.
If you’re going through a time of struggle, I encourage you to search your heart. Have you shut the door on communication with God? I know you want Him to listen to your concerns and your fears, but are you prepared to listen to His solutions? Are you willing even if they aren’t what you want to hear?
Following God’s will sometimes hurts, but it’s a good hurt. It’s like the ache from a productive day’s work. Doing things on your own will only lead to self-inflicted frustration and isolation. Lean into the fears you’re trying so hard to avoid, and trust Him.
It was an ongoing struggle for me to face the unknown and unwanted world of widowhood. But God slowly opened my eyes to many of the mysterious wonders of His plans. It all came together the moment I realized the stop-gap in our communication wasn’t Him, but me.
If you find yourself rejecting God’s will, don’t be afraid to admit it. The Lord already knows your heart anyway! Open the door and let the Holy Spirit be your Comforter. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Why go through life distanced from God in fear and sorrow when you can walk in fellowship with Him? Yes, we may walk ahead not knowing where the road ends up. But when we trust Him, there is always sweet peace.
Won’t you open the door?
Copyright © 2019 by Sabrina McDonald. All rights reserved.