I had a long talk with God about His anger this morning.
I know that probably sounds terrible, but let me explain. Recently God challenged me concerning my two of my more familiar forms of Bible reading.
Approach 1: I read to find God’s comfort or encouragement. I’m looking for something to nurture my soul.
Approach 2: I read to discover God’s will for me, His plan for my personal growth, or my marching orders for the day.
Although there’s really nothing wrong with either of those methods of Bible reading (God’s Word clearly does nourish our souls and
direct our plans and activities) I noticed, to my embarrassment, that those Bible reading approaches are mostly about me. I frequently neglect a significant third way of reading.
Approach 3: I read in order to know God better. The Bible, after all, is a revelation of God—His character, His plans, His ways, His works. As I read God’s Word, I encounter Him more fully.
So this morning I gave it a try. I turned to where my bookmark was—Psalm 90—and started reading. As I began I prayed,
“God, what do you want me to see and understand about You?”
He stopped me at verse 11:
Who fully understands the power of your anger? A person fears you more when he better understands your fury (GWT).
“Really, God? You want me to understand more about your anger? You brought me here to teach me about Your fury?” I wasn’t sure I was going to like this assignment. But it seemed to be what He had in mind, so that was the verse I meditated on.
When I want to understand something or someone, I often begin by asking questions. I didn’t know if it would be helpful for this purpose, but I decided to try. Systematically, I thought through the journalistic 5Ws and an H. I wrote them down. Then one by one, I journaled about them with God. Here’s the list I worked from:
- Who do you get angry with, God?
- What makes you angry?
- Where in the Bible have I seen Your anger before?
- When have You been angry with me?
- How do you show Your anger?
- Why do You seem angrier in the Old Testament than in the New?
- What do You personally want me to understand about Your anger today?
I was apprehensive at first. The idea of God being angry makes me uncomfortable. But as I journaled and invited God to speak to me, He did. He gave me insight. He taught me from parallel passages. He reminded me of times He’s ministered to me throughout the years. He put together bits of theology that had been scattered over my spiritual landscape for a long time.
By the time I was finished, I was no longer uncomfortable. In fact, I felt peaceful, loved, and secure. More importantly, I came away with a deeper appreciation for both God’s justice and His kindness than I’d had previously. I had a better appreciation for God’s holy anger than I’d had before.
I’m not going to try to explain everything God did for me in this post—you need to ask God your own questions—but I finished feeling that God was even bigger and holier than I’d realized—and at the same time, that He loves me more than I can comprehend. And you know what? By taking a God-centered instead of me-centered approach to my Bible reading, He met me along the way. I imagine that’s how it’s supposed to work.