That sinking feeling of disappointment when you realize your hopes haven’t been fulfilled, your dreams are dashed and all that remains is hopelessness. Disappointment, discouragement and despair are forms of loss, when we grieve in some way for a longed-for outcome. That might be failing to get the new job, a negative pregnancy test or the end of a relationship. It can be especially disheartening, then, when that disappointment comes after prayer. Intense, heart-felt and faithful prayer. Seemingly, the answer to our prayer has been a great big “no”. The sense that God has abandoned or forgotten us in our time of need smarts and can leave us discouraged and unsettled, wondering what kind of a God would deny us in this way. Perhaps we no longer want to connect with Church, or with our prayer life. And it’s hard to open up to others about our feelings. Shame causes us to hide, deny or ignore our anger. Instead of sharing our feelings of disappointment we find ourselves answering that “all’s okay” when friends ask how we are. Inside, though, our very real feelings of disappointment leave us frustrated, resentful and downright angry with the Divine for denying our prayer request.
PT2 It’s long been recognized that anger is often associated with loss. The Kubler-Ross model of grief, used in many therapy settings, is well known for a focus upon anger as an important stage of any grieving process. Anger is a healthy expression associated with disappointment and many people benefit from coming to therapy to work through and process their anger after a loss. Indeed, expressing anger towards God is not a new phenomenon. The Psalms are full of outpouring of pain and despair, directed towards God. The Psalms demonstrate the complexity and messiness of the human condition, including the anger and frustration we can feel with God when we are disappointed. How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? (Psalm 13:1-2, NIV). Psalm 13 reveals that we can indeed be real, raw and honest with God about our emotions, our frustrations and our disappointments when we feel forgotten and abandoned by God. So, if you sense that secretly you are angry with God after a disappointment, opening the lid on that anger and allowing some of the despair and discouragement to be expressed can be a healthy way to find a greater sense of serenity. A trained Christian therapist will not shame you for your anger: they will listen with empathy and non-judgement to support you to express your emotion. They will offer and create space for you to share and make sense of your loss, sadness, frustration and despair. If you are struggling and wrestling with anger and bitterness, or feel abandoned and rejected by God, consider how Christian Therapy might help you towards expression that, in time, can lead to a more hopeful future. References: Kübler-Ross, E. (1969). On Death and Dying (1st ed.). Routledge. Virginia Johnson, EdD, PC, CMHIMP