Beyond the Book with Dr. Hambrick: “Angry with God”
Chad Burchett | December 06, 2022
How do you process intense suffering and betrayal and be honest with God about your emotions? Designed to help people work through this question and learn to walk with God through anger and confusion, “Angry with God: An Honest Journey Through Suffering and Betrayal” serves as a helpful guide to answering profound questions with God about the pain we experience.
Written by Brad Hambrick, Assistant Professor of Biblical Counseling at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, “Angry with God” reflects Hambrick’s pastoral heart and his insights as an experienced counselor. In the following Q&A, Hambrick takes the time to answer a few questions about his recent book:
What is the book about?
This is a book about navigating the grief that follows intense suffering. It is a book about getting “unstuck” in the emotional quagmire that comes when the brokenness of this world hits us in ways that unsettles our faith. It provides an honest journey more than simple answers.
Who is the target audience?
I wrote this book for Christians who are hurting and, as a result, feel trapped between putting their pain into words and discarding their faith. I wrote this book for pastors and friends who want to come alongside these hurting believers in ways that are patiently helpful.
What motivated you to write the book?
Many people have welcomed me as their counselor into the aftermath of their hardest experiences. Even when counseling was helpful, they often found it hard to have the same kind of redemptively candid conversations with their Christian friends. This book was meant to facilitate those conversations between friends.
What are some common misunderstandings we have about suffering that keep us from processing our intense emotions with God?
As Christians, we are prone to think that all anger is selfish-anger; that is, James 4 anger. We miss that there is also grief-anger; that is, Psalm 44 anger. When we miss this, we are prone to think that God is against the honest emotions that emerge in our hardest times. That makes God, who we know should be our refuge, feel far off when we need him most.
How can we begin the important shift from anger “at” God to processing our emotions “with” God?
When we are angry at God, we think God is against how we feel so our prayers are as defensive as counterarguments in a courtroom. When we are angry with God, we realize God is compassionate towards the suffering we are facing so we talk with him (even if our tone is as sharp as the end of Psalm 44) as a friend who is a source of solace in hard times.
How does learning to be honest with God and others about our pain equip us to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission?
Most people who walk away from their faith, do not do so because Christianity is theologically complex. They walk away because of intense suffering (i.e., a cancer diagnosis, death of a child, betrayal at church) that they do not know how to process. If we are going to do ministry in a broken world, like the one we live in, we need to know how to be an ambassador of God’s comfort in these kinds of situations.
How has researching this book and counseling others to process their suffering with God shaped you spiritually?
This was a hard-but-good book to write. It required spending a lot of time reflecting on pain that does not have easy answers and considering what a tested faith looks like when processing tragedies well. On this side of writing it, I think my faith is grittier and more resilient.
Angry with God: An Honest Journey Through Suffering and Betrayal
No one gets mad at God for something small. When we’re angry with God, it is because we’ve faced something immensely hard. Anger is an often-overlooked part of grieving, and as such, is an appropriate response to profoundly painful events. Counselor Brad Hambrick provides a guided process to being honest with God about your pain to restore and deepen your relationship with him. While we are often prone to interpret our anger about intense suffering as being at God, this book is an invitation to process these intense emotions with God as a source of comfort who is sturdy enough to support these turbulent emotions.
If you are struggling with deep grief that is accompanied with anger and confusion, Angry with God will be profoundly helpful in your journey. Hambrick will patiently walk you through the process of being honest with God (and others) about your pain. You will learn how to articulate your pain, alleviate the effects of this pain, contextualize your experience in light of the gospel, and begin to hope again. God is a good shepherd who is patient and willing to move at the pace of his sheep. God can be trusted in places that merit the name “the valley of the shadow of death.”
September 26, 2022
Paperback, 160 pages