I was standing next to a friend and co-intercessor during worship. When worship ended, she took me aside and asked me a question.
“Yung nagtampo ka kay Lord, gaano katagal?”
I wasn’t surprised at her question.
“Aling tampo?” I wanted to ask.
Some people in our community know me to be matampuhin with the Lord. It’s something I don’t keep a secret from them, even though I’m in the prayer ministry and people know me to have a solid relationship with God.
The closest English equivalent of tampo is sulking, or to sulk. I don’t deny that I have been angry with God a lot of times, resulting in tampo for days, weeks, months, sometimes with me going without prayer (something I don’t recommend for extended periods, hihi) for the same amount of time.
Why do we make tampo?
I’ve only been with the Lord for a short time (4 years as of this writing). Let me recount the times I had major tampo with the Lord:
- When I was trying so hard to follow His commands (love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, forgive) and still ended up getting hurt
- When I sensed the Lord telling me to give up my illustration agent
- When I felt the Lord calling me to a difficult situation as part of His plans for me
- When I gave and sacrificed everything I can to serve Him and ended up exhausted, burned out, persecuted against, and hurt by the community I served in.
I don’t know what your situation is. But perhaps we get hurt and angry when God withholds His blessings from us. When prayers aren’t answered. When situations fail to turn out the way we expected them to. When a loved one dies, or cancer takes its next victim. We trust in God for healing/restoration/provision but for reasons we don’t know yet, He doesn’t answer or move the way we expect him to.
The right way to be angry at God
Someone came up to me once and admitted she was angry at God. Her mother had died unexpectedly and it was a huge blow to her, especially as she was a faithful servant and had believed in God for His miracles and healing. Still, God had taken her mother away and she was hurt and angry. She did feel guilty about being angry at God though, and wanted to know if it was okay.
“Ok lang na magalit ka kay Lord. Maiintindihan Niya,” I told her. “Mahirap sabihin ito lalo na nasa prayer ministry ako, so wag mong isipin advice ito ng community pero sa akin lang ha, sabihin mo lahat ng galit mo sa Kanya.”
She told me how she would go to the adoration chapel and just sit there with a scowl on her face, not praying anything but silently telling the Lord, “Galit ako Sayo.”
I had to laugh. I told her that in itself was prayer.
“Para kang pumunta sa bahay ng kaibigan mo at sinabing, ‘Galit ako sayo! Pwedeng makikain?'” I said to her. “Tapos makikikain ka habang galit. Kasi kaibigan mo pa rin siya.” And then we laughed and laughed over this analogy.
I believe her way of being angry with the Lord is the right way of dealing with it. Our anger with the Lord should lead us to Him, not away from Him. I’m guilty of giving God the cold shoulder when I’m angry at Him. My prayer life would grow cold and I would stop reading my Bible. This is especially true when I was a younger Christian. I’m now growing and maturing in my faith and relationship with Him, but I can’t deny I still get angry and disappointed with Him. It’s normal for I’m human. What’s different is that now, I would talk to Him still even if I’m angry. “Naiinis ako sa Iyo, Lord,” I would say. Or “Hindi ako natutuwa sa Iyo. Ayaw ko na muna Ikaw kausapin.” (Pero kinakausap pa rin, parang tanga lang 😜)
God already knows your real feelings, so why not be honest and upfront with Him about how you feel? Doing so is indicative of a real friendship; a real relationship with Him. Think of someone you have a close, loving, healthy relationship with– perhaps your best friend. It is only with people you are close and comfortable with that you can be honest and upfront about how you feel. God is the same with us. He is our closest Friend, and He is big enough to handle whatever you throw at him for He is God.
Is it ok to be angry with God?
The short answer is yes.
Don’t let people tell you it’s NOT okay to be angry at God.
Those people who tell you so are likely dealing with father issues (growing up with overly strict, authoritarian fathers– our wordly fathers often affect our image of God the Father), and spirits of legalism, religiosity, spiritual pride, and self-righteousness. If you’re reading this and it’s striking a chord with you, STOP READING and go to God in prayer before you continue. Ask Him to grant you humility, openness to correction, wisdom, and enlightenment from the Holy Spirit before you read further.
The Bible is full of accounts of people being angry at God. There was Job, Jonah, Elijah, among others. The book of Job in particular is a good book to read when you’re suffering and angry at God. Job was a good, righteous man who did what was pleasing to the Lord and when troubles came his way, he became angry. It’s quite a lengthy book– 42 chapters long– most of it an account of Job’s complaints to the Lord.
Why won’t God give me what I ask? Why won’t he answer my prayer? Job 6:8
Does it please you [God] to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile on the plans of the wicked? Job 10:3
As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul… Job 27:1
David wrote most of the Psalms, a book composed of songs and prayers that present a whole range of human emotions: joy, happiness, relief, grief, anger, loss, guilt, sadness. A good part of it are laments, which Dictionary.com defines as “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.”
I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes. Psalm 6:6-7
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Psalm 22:2
The prayers of lament are a great example of how our attitude should be when disappointed and angry at God. We come to Him in total honesty and vulnerability, presenting to him all our negative feelings, but in the end, still acknowledging his goodness and sovereignty, believing him to have a purpose in our pain and trusting in his ability to work all things for good.
Even saints were not spared from disappointment and displeasure with the Lord. St. Teresa of Calcutta writes in the book Total Surrender:
“Sometimes I find it difficult to smile at Jesus because He can be so demanding.”
Were these people any less godly and faithful despite their feelings? No. Did God send them thunderbolts of lightning from heaven to destroy them in His wrath? No. God was with them in their pain and suffering, and they found comfort and solace in him.
God will woo you back
Did you know what happened to Job after all his complaints to the Lord? God restored him and blessed him with more than he had lost. In Job 42:10, it is written: “…after Job had prayed for his three friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had had before.” The Scripture goes on in verse 12: “The Lord blessed the last part of Job’s life even more that he had blessed the first.”
The prophet Jonah, who is famous for running away from the Lord’s plans, became angry at God and also sulked after he finally obeyed God’s will. God chastised Jonah for his anger (The Lord answered, “What right do you have to be angry?” Jonah 4:4) yet at the same time, he gave Jonah a plant whose shade he can sit under while he was sulking (haha). I can imagine God calmly telling Jonah, “Eto, halaman para komportable ka pa rin habang galit na galit ka sa Akin. Hiyang-hiya Ako sayo, eh.” 😝 See, God is understanding and His love and mercy endless, and no amount of our anger will separate Him from us.
I once became very angry with the Lord for something I sensed He was calling me to do. I couldn’t believe He would call me to a difficult, painful situation as part of His plans and purposes for me. I was sooo mad that I cursed and yelled profanities at him in the privacy of my car while in traffic, fuming with anger (at the same time, I was wondering if the tricycle drivers and passersby can hear my shouting from inside the car). It was the most mad I had been at God so far. All he told me in response was that I was a brat (I got the word “brat” thrice in a span of 24 hours– in a devotional about praying bratty prayers, on a “Big Brat Burgers” signboard I saw just as I was thinking about my anger, and in a religious article I was reading about how we tend to be spoiled brats even while knowing how good God is. That’s how I knew it was a message from the Lord– multiple confirmations from various sources). But after it came the assurance He spoke in my heart– that He loves me still, despite me being a brat. Slowly my anger melted away, and by His grace, I surrendered to his will and continued to be faithful to him despite myself. I was too far in with my relationship with Him that I knew his loving goodness is too good for me to separate myself from (Important to note: I did ask forgiveness from the Lord and went to confession after that incident, for I recognized the intensity of my anger and me cursing God as sin). He has sent me many graces and blessings inspite of my shortcomings with him and I am continuously humbled.
And my other bouts of tampo with the Lord? Most of the time, I find that God works slowly 😑 His timing is not ours. Sometimes it took years before I had answers as to why He allowed less-than-ideal situations to happen, for my good and His purpose. But when the whys were revealed to me (with the passage of time, wisdom, and the right understanding He had developed in me in the waiting), everything just clicked and made sense.
I’m currently waiting on answers for some situations I don’t fully understand just yet. But I know enough of His good and loving heart by now that I trust he is working things out behind the scenes, beyond what I can see. That gives me peace.
It’s okay to be angry at God. But as with anything, too much of something is bad– so don’t overdo it and let not your anger lead you to sin (Ephesians 4:26).
A prayer for those angry with God
I believe the root of why we make tampo or become angry and disappointed with God is when our expectations are not met. This is an issue of pride and control– when things don’t turn out the way WE want to. Remember, God is in control, not us. We find it difficult to trust Him, believing OUR way is better than HIS ways. We forget that God is God.
Drawing from my own experiences with tampo with the Lord, can I lead you into prayer? Pray this over yourself and hopefully you find peace and realignment with what God is doing in your life:
I come to You with all honesty and vulnerability. I am angry, I’m mad, I’m tired, I’m disappointed, I’m (say what you’re feeling right now). This situation is not turning out the way I expected it to. I am waiting on You but you haven’t given me the answers I want. Forgive me for being impatient and angry and trying to take control over this situation. Grant me the grace to overcome my hurts and anger. Though it’s difficult, I will wait. Work on me while You are working on this, Lord. When I am impatient, grant me the grace to be graceful in the waiting. Help me trust in You and wait patiently for your will, your ways, and your timing to manifest. Change me, Lord. Grant me wisdom and understanding so I understand more of what You are doing in my heart and in my life. I surrender to You all pride and my need for control. You are sovereign, God. You are a good, good Father and You work everything for my good, for Your purposes and for your glory. Let Your will be done, not mine. This I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
May God bless you with His peace that surpasses all understanding as he works in your life and in time, may He lead you to understanding 🙂