Tomorrow is the second year anniversary of my husband’s death. When I look back at all the ways my life has changed in those two years, it feels more like a decade. I see everything differently now; I feel as if I’m on the verge of a new beginning, a new life, and I’m excited to see what God will do in this season. But I haven’t always been this accepting of the way things are now.
After David died, many people asked me if I was angry at God, and my response was always, no. At the time I translated anger with God to mean that I was accusing Him of injustice, as if He had done something to me that was wrong. But I didn’t feel that way at all. I knew David was a gift to me, and if God God chose to take my husband, that was His prerogative as father and creator. In the words of Job, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
But I did feel distant from Him. I would hear just a word or two from God in my spirit from time to time, but it wasn’t the same intimacy we enjoyed before. I wondered if I was being punished. Or perhaps I didn’t have enough faith to please Him. Maybe God was leaving me? Oh, heaven forbid!
I was afraid that my doubts would make our distance greater, so I was ashamed to admit my struggles to the Father. But the silence became deafening, and 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?”
But the Spirit replied, “You are not speaking to me.”
At first I didn’t understand. I was desperate for His love, His companionship, His yoke, as the word says, “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.
Imagine a teenager girl who just got the news from her father that the family is moving to a new state. The girl is furious, full of fears and concerns: What will happen to her current friends? Will she fit in at her new school? What about all the hours of work and preparation she’s put into her hobbies and activities? “I don’t want to leave!” she cries, “I like it here!”
The father hasn’t made this decision because he’s mad at his daughter. It’s not out of discipline or punishment or anger. As the leader of the household, his judgment is simply what’s best for the family.
And even though the young teen 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 and remind her that he’s concerned for her, but he doesn’t force her to come out and be with him. He lets the child throw her tantrum until she’s ready to be in communication with him again, patiently waiting for her to return to his arms.
That was exactly how I felt. I didn’t want this new life, and my heart was protesting. I wanted to be married and for everything to be calm and normal again. I wanted my children to have a father, and I was doing everything in my power to try to fix it … without God’s help. The Lord wanted me to wait for Him to work it all out, and I just wanted resolution … now. I didn’t want to use faith or wait on God’s timing or see things differently. I wanted things my way!
But God was waiting patiently for me to come to my senses. I was not abandoned by Him, and we were no more in danger of undoing our relationship than a daughter and her loving father. 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.
When I realized that the real problem was the attitude of my heart, I repented of my rebellion, and I was amazed at the flood of communication and understanding that He poured out to my soul when I finally decided to listen and accept His will. Many fears that I was dealing with were healed immediately. I heard from the spirit so clearly and tenderly. When I finally said in my heart, “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. I must have recorded 20 journal pages of thoughts and scriptures I heard from the Father that night.
Since then I’ve heard many stories of people who are struggling with various forms of grief—rejection, infertility, divorce, victims of affairs. And I can see the anger with God, but no one wants to admit it. I think it’s because we know our only hope of salvation from such a devastating disappointment can only come from God. And like me, women are afraid that their anger will be punished, so we deceive ourselves to believe it’s not there.
But God is gracious, loving, and kind. He’s not a vindictive lightning-bolt dictator with a bad temper. God’s word says that the Lord is “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” He has more grace than we can imagine, always desiring our full restoration. And because Christ was fully man and fully God, He can identify with our struggles. Our Lord is not without compassion and understanding.
So if you’re going through a time of struggle, I encourage you to search your heart. Have you shut the door on your communication with Him? I know you want God to listen to your concerns and your fears, but are you prepared to listen to His solutions even if they aren’t what you want to hear?
Following God’s will sometimes hurts, but it’s a good hurt, like the ache from a productive day’s work. But doing things on your own will only lead to self-inflicted frustration and isolation. Lean into the fears that you’re trying so hard to avoid, and trust Him.
I realize that is easier said than done. It’s an ongoing struggle for me as I face the unknown, unwanted world where I’m now living. But God is slowly opening my eyes to many of the mysterious wonders of the plans He has for my life, and it all began to come together the moment I realized that the stop-gap in our communication was me.
If you find yourself in this place of anger, don’t be afraid to admit it. The Lord already knows your heart anyway! Then open the door and let the Holy Spirit be your comforter. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Why go through this life distanced from God in fear and sorrow when you can walk in fellowship with Him, hearing His voice and clearly following His will? Yes, we may walk ahead not knowing where we will end up, but when we trust Him, there is always sweet peace.
Are you ready to surrender?
Copyright (c) 2019 by Sabrina McDonald