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Can I Be Mad at God About My Illness? 3 Ways to Know


By Lisa Copen

“When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I actually felt relief,” shares Cindy. “I had been trying to find a reason for my pain and it finally was acknowledged as being something physical not mental.” Cindy goes on to explain, “It wasn’t until months later that I started getting short-tempered and frustrated, and I realized that I was angry about the diagnosis. I was angry that I had to suffer and no one understood.”

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a doctor in Switzerland, wrote a life-changing book called, “On Death and Dying” which describes the cycle of emotional stages that is often referred to as the grief cycle. Anger is the third stage, following the shock stage and the denial stage.

When we discover that we have a chronic illness, meaning an illness we will likely have for the rest of our lives, anger is a natural reaction. So many hopes and dreams seem to be taken from us.

Acknowledging these feelings exist and learning how to manage them is part of the mourning process. People have a variety of time frames for each stage of the grief cycle, but sooner or later one will likely enter this phase. Surprisingly your anger may be worst during the third year of the disease than the first.

Cheryl, who lives with diabetes, shares, “For the longest time the disease was just an annoyance, but once I had to start checking my blood sugar ten times a day and watching every bite I ate, I got angry. I lashed out at everyone, even my husband and daughter. I was so jealous they could eat whatever they wanted and didn’t even appreciate it.”

One thing we can count on is that anger is part of the grief cycle that we all go through when we suffer loss.

“It is my observation,” says Linda Noble Topf, author of “You are Not Your Illness,” “that the absence of anger in the face of a serious illness suggests that we have already withdrawn from life, that we have relinquished our passion for living, that we are resigned and emotionally numb.”

When you are Christian it can feel shameful to even express that you have angry feelings. Too often Christians believe that their angry emotions are sinful and something that those with a great deal of faith never experience. They even believe that those feelings they do have are not even quote “allowed.” Have you ever experience some of these feelings?

If my faith in God is solid, I should trust that He wants what is best for me. Doubting His hand in my circumstances to shows my lack of faith.

If I tell other Christians about my angry feelings, and how frustrated I am with this disease, won’t they think I am weak in my walk with Christ?

I know it says, “wise men shouldn’t anger” in the Bible. How can I, in good faith, express the emotions that I am feeling?

I know that anger leads to bitterness. So if I don’t acknowledge these feelings I will be a “better Christian” and I won’t ever become bitter about life.

All of these thoughts are normal, but that doesn’t mean they’re correct. By burying our anger and not acknowledging it, we prevent ourselves from moving on to the next phase in the grief cycle, learning how to effectively manage our emotions and our chronic illness.

Here are a few suggestions for coping effectively with illness and the anger that accompanies it.

1. Are you angry? Acknowledge your authentic feelings and then get on with life.

If you insist on ignoring your emotions, believing that in the end you will be a spiritually healthier person for it, you are wrong. Topf advises, “Think of anger as a resource that you can learn to harness and refine for your own benefit.” If you can learn to recognize your anger, it will help you reclaim your authentic identity. Faking it won’t take you through this.

The Bible explains how Job got angry about the events in his life and cursed the day of his birth. He said, “Do I have any power to help myself, now that success has been driven from me?” (Job 6:13). In the end though, God blessed Job in many ways and Job told the Lord, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful to know” (Job 42:3b). Through his feelings of anger and frustration, character and understanding was built.

2. It is all right to have angry feelings.

God gave us the ability to feel anger. There are many examples in the Bible where even He feels anger. What does the Bible tell us about anger? Once you begin to get in touch with these feelings of anger, it may trigger every unfairness and injustice that you are experiencing. We are susceptible to becoming wrapped up in these feelings and remaining angry at the world. These are the feelings of anger that God warns us about; as He knows that they can become too prominent in our life and take our focus off of Him.

“For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James

“Wise men turn away anger” (Proverbs 29:8b).

“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control” (Proverbs 29:11).

God knows that although anger is a natural human emotion, it should not be our lifestyle. Some people may argue that it takes anger to get things accomplished. One example of this is the emotional name of Mothers against Drunk Drivers which have a seemingly appropriate acronym called “MADD.” “We discover that anger is first and foremost demand for change,” writes Topf. Great things have happened in our history, because of the “I’m-not-going-to-take-it anymore-attitude,” but it’s not how God calls us to live our entire life.

In Amos 1:11, God says, “I will not turn back my wrath… because his anger raged continually.” God isn’t upset because of the presence of anger, but because the anger was continuous. God calls us to put our focus on Him and try to make a difference that will bring glory to Him.

3. Walk with God beside you and He will walk with you through your anger.

In the Bible, David experienced this promise and wrote, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me” (Psalm 138:7). God is always waiting for you to stretch out your hand to Him, especially when in anger reigns. He will protect you from using it unwisely.

“I’m still dealing with anger at this illness.” explains Peggy, who lives with fibromyalgia. “Each time I realize I have another limitation, I experience anger. And yet, I know that God has a plan for my life that is perfect. As I become more adjusted to having chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, and the limitations it places on my activities, I expect and pray for His perfect grace to become slow to anger, counting on the scripture, ‘The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love'” (Psalm 103:8).

Anger is an emotion we will all encounter for the rest of our lives. Perhaps the simplest of advice is a scripture that I quote in my book, Why Can’t I Make People Understand? Discovering the Validation Those with Chronic Illness Seek and Why” where I go through the mixed bag of emotions, especially anger and bitterness. It is Hosea 7:13b-14 in which God says, “I long to redeem [you] but. . . [you] do not cry out to Me from [your] hearts, but wait upon [your] beds.” Instead of curling up in bed wailing “Why me?” pour our your heart to the Lord and simply ask Him for help.

©Lisa Copen. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author of this article, Lisa Copen is also the founder of Rest Ministries and National Invisible Illness Awareness Week. “Why Can’t I Make People Understand?” is Lisa’s latest book that can get you past your emotions of anger at www.WhyCantIMakePeopleUnderstand.com.