Doest Thou Well To Be Angry?
Updated: May 25, 2020
By bro Alvin Lin
Have you had times in your life when your faith wavered and you started questioning God about things? Well, you are not alone. Even faithful men of God like Habakkuk and Job faced moments of doubt when they questioned God about the uncertainties around them. But there is a character in the Bible who was so angry with God that he would rather die than to live, even after God questioned him twice, “Doest thou well to be angry?” (Jon 4:4,9). But can “mortal man be more just than God” or “more pure than his maker” (Job 4:17)? In this article, we shall discuss what caused Jonah to be angry with God and consider whether his anger against God was justified.
When God does what we do not want Jonah was angry with God for sending him to preach to the city of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, so much that he wanted to flee “from the presence of the Lord” (Jon 1:1-3). Jonah’s anger may be understandable. After all, the Assyrians were cruel conquerors notorious for their savage treatment of rebels by burning or even skinning them alive, such that they were hated of all nations (Nah 3:1,19). In fact, Israel would soon suffer under Assyrian captivity because of their sins against God (2Ki 17:6). However, God was justified in sending Jonah to preach to the city of Nineveh because salvation is of Him (Jon 2:9).
Do we also get angry with God when He does what we do not want? Are we angry when He blesses those whom we deem to be undeserving and ungodly (Psa 73:12-13)? Have we considered whether we ourselves are deserving of God’s blessings in the first place (Gen 32:10)? Let us realise that it is right for God to give to whomever He wills because all things belong to Him and we should not have an evil eye just because He is good (Mat 20:13-15).
When God does not do what we want Jonah was angry with God for sparing Nineveh from destruction (Jon 3:10-4:4). Nineveh’s destruction may seem like their just desserts for the atrocities that they had committed. Whatever the case, God was still justified in sparing Nineveh from destruction because He is gracious, merciful, patient, kind, and forgiving (Jon 4:2).
Do we also get angry with God when He does not do what we want? Are we angry when He does not punish those whom we deem to be deserving and wicked (Mal 3:14-15)? Have we considered that we ourselves have not been punished as we deserve (Ezr 9:13)? Let us realise that it is right for God to show mercy on whoever He wills because all things are made by Him and it is not our place to question our Maker (Rom 9:15-21).
When God takes away what we have Jonah was angry with God for causing the plant that sheltered him to wither (Jon 4:5-9). Putting myself in Jonah’s shoes, I actually feel pity for him and I can empathise with his anger. This was a man who had suffered much in a short period of time – being thrown into the deep sea, living in total darkness inside a fish’s belly for 3 days and 3 nights, having to swallow his pride to save his enemies, and having the only comfort he had taken from him. In such times of misery, it is definitely easy to get angry. Still God is justified in causing the plant to wither because He is the one responsible for the growth of the plant, not Jonah (Jon 4:10).
Do we also get angry with God when he takes away what we have, such as when we lose our wealth and/or our health (Job 2:9-10)? Have we considered that we are never really in control of our lives (Pro 16:9)? Let us realise that it is right for God to take away whatever He wills because all things are given by Him and what we have is only temporary (Job 1:21).
Indeed, it is tempting to get angry with God when we experience injustice and suffering in our lives, but the example of Jonah teaches us that it is never right to be angry with God because He will always do what is right, even though it may not please us (Jon 4:10-11). Therefore, let us always trust in our God and never give up on our faith, no matter how difficult our lives may be and boldly proclaim the same as Habakkuk, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” (Hab 3:17-18).