Anger at God


A cat on a grave in Pere Lachaise Cemetery

A cat on a grave in Pere Lachaise Cemetery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cover of "A Grief Observed"

Cover of A Grief Observed

Sam was a wonderful cat–a yellow and white tabby whose fur matched that of Sienna, a sweet cat whom I really loved, who sat on my leg at night when I lay down on the couch and was by my side when I woke up in the morning. Sadly, she had multiple health problems and had terminal kidney failure for which she had to be put to sleep. From the start, Sam was every bit as sweet as Sienna. He’d virtually clamp to my side every morning and I’d reach over and rub the smooth white fur on his belly. Then he started having urinary problems. Two surgeries, which would have cured 98% of all cats with his condition (crystals blocking a narrow urethra, causing damage resulting in massive scar tissue growth) did not sure Sam. I was so upset when he was put to sleep (he was only five and a half years old)I could barely function. I was also furious–at God. It wasn’t that long before Sam died that I had lost my best friend to breast cancer–a woman who ate well, exercised, took care of herself, and died at 46. The two deaths so close together infuriated me, and the object of my anger was God.

God took our first cat, Liebchen, a real ornery character who still loved us; within a month He took Sienna. Then He took my best friend, then Sam. I was so furious I called God about every name from the depths of hell. I imagined that God became incarnate in a human body so He could “enjoy” Himself when animals and people, especially children, suffered. I mocked the design argument, pointing to the windpipe and esophagus having one entrance with only a flap making the difference between life and death. No human designer would be stupid and incompetent enough to make such a system. Evolution seemed cruel and arbitrary, and if there was a God, He seemed a cold, uncaring b…rd.

Some people were horrified when they heard my thoughts, saying I would go to hell–that helped me a great deal–to increase my anger. Some people understood, including some Christians, thank God. I remembered the book of Job, which some Christians conveniently forget–or they do not read it carefully. Job is faithful to God, yet is clearly angry at God. He believes God is behaving in an arbitrary way toward him–“if it is not He, who is it” who is causing his suffering. Even after that, God says that what Job said regarding Him was “right.” This does not suggest, as some suggest, that there is an evil part of God, but it does suggest that God understands human anger–it often does seem as if the universe is unjust, uncaring–and that Stephen Crane‘s conception of nature as not giving a d..m about humanity is correct. The only plausible answer to the mystery of evil is eschatological. That seems inadequate for many atheists, agnostics, and even theists. Dostoevsky understood that unless somehow the pain and suffering of this life were rectified in an afterlife one could, with some justice, blaspheme God.

I was falling apart to the point that my work was suffering when I saw Sam lying on the other side of the bed one night. I was neither asleep nor obviously dreaming. I reached over, touched the soft fur, and watched him slowly fade away. I have seen him two times since then. I think it was a true visitation, though skeptics will have their own answers. It helped me get on my feet and mitigated my anger at God. God and I still have a love-hate relationship (on my part–God is love so He cannot hate). But without God, nothing is redeemed, and all the suffering and pain of humans and animals from the dawn of evolution until the present is ultimately worthless. I’d rather be angry at times at the only Source of meaning rather than be indifferent.

Christians should not condemn someone’s anger at God, but should bear with the person since most of the time the anger is temporary. Give positive advice at an emotional level–do not condemn the person who is angry to hell. It’s not your call in any case. Suggest books such as C. S. Lewis‘s, A Grief Observed and Nicholas Wolterstorff‘s Lament for a Son. Too many Christians have driven doubters and those angry with God permanently from the faith by their legalism. If you are angry with God, realize that such anger may not be permanent–it is best that it not be permanent, for that would lead to the bitterness of total lack of faith and a sense of meaninglessness in life. If a Christian is legalistic about your anger, confront him–let the person know that he is responding in an inappropriate way. Be patient with yourself and with others–only then can one day, perhaps you can be patient with God when bad things happen.

On Losing a Beloved Cat


yellow and white cat

Image via Wikipedia

On Good Friday my wife and I took Sam to the vet. He had urinary tract blockage, common in cats, that two surgeries could not alleviate. We walked into the surgery room with Sam still asleep with the anesthesia mask on. We stroked him, spoke to him, stayed with him a few minutes before the vet came in with the medication to give Sam so he could avoid a painful death. He passed quietly, and we stroked him a long time. Sam had visited the vet’s many times recently, and everyone fell in love with him. He was an incredibly sweet, trusting cat who loved for someone to stroke his belly. We took the body home, spent some time with it before burying it with two other beloved cats in the back yard. My wife ordered a headstone to join the others.

Pets become more than pets–they often become part of the family. My wife and I do not have children, so our cats are, in a sense, proxies, although we recognize that they are not human beings. We probably love them as much as any other loved one, and I have not cried this much since my best friend died last year. But I did receive one gift that helped.

[The cat in the photo is not Sam, but he could pass for Sam’s twin]

Three nights ago I felt paws walk over my feet. Thinking it was our other cat, Frodo, I looked up–no cat. The following night the same thing happened. I raised my head, looked across my wife, and a cat sat “meatloaf style” on the other side of the bed. He looked at me. I blinked, since the cat was not Frodo. There was enough light to make out the light patterns of yellow and white–it was Sam. He stayed still a few seconds, then dissolved into the air. Now a skeptic may say that hallucinations can occur in the hypnogogic state between wakefulness and sleep. Or a skeptic who accepts psi may argue that the apparition may be due to my own psychokinesis. But I believe this was a gift, Sam appeared to me to give me comfort, and by God’s grace he was permitted to do so. I have never had a problem believing that non-human animals, especially higher animals, will be raised from the dead. I believe that, if God so grace me that I enter Heaven, that I shall see Sam once more, along with all the beloved pets–and all the beloved people–I have known this side of eternity. “And all manner of things shall be well”–St. Julian of Norwich.