“Angry With God” by Brad Hambrick ~ a book review

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I have to admit that I never imagined that I would read a book entitled Angry With God. However, when I heard about Brad Hambrick’s new book in the “Ask a Christian Counselor” series, I looked at the book blurb–and found out that, it WAS indeed something that I not only wanted to, but needed to read. New Growth Press sent me an ebook copy of Angry With God, and here’s more about the book plus what I thought about it.

What you’ll find in Angry With God

From the publisher:

“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.”  

Angry with God is part of the Ask the Christian Counselor series. This series walks readers through their deepest and most profound questions. Each question is unpacked by an experienced counselor that gives readers the tools to understand their struggle and how the gospel brings hope and healing to the problem they are facing.”

In 5 book segments, Brad Hambrick speaks to the reader about:

  • Life practices and pacing that will help those in pain walk through the process of healing
  • The different between hurt and heresy
  • How the psalmists spoke of their own pain to God
  • How myriad parts of our lives (emotions, thoughts, relationships, choices, and our views of God) are adversely affected by pain
  • Practical steps to take in resolving our griefs and pains
  • What the gospel has to say about pain and living in this good, but broken, created world

My thoughts about Angry With God

As I mentioned above, I’d never expected (or WANTED, naturally) to read a book entitled Angry With God. I was even more surprised when, a decade ago, I found myself incredibly angry with Him. Events had happened to me (and consequently, to my family) that just did not fit into my worldview of what I expected in this life. (I know! That sounds SO self-centered. But it was pain that I felt, and felt deeply.)

As time went by, I found that my relationship with God had somehow dislocated. I was still connected with Him, but I didn’t feel connected. I read His Word, attended church, and prayed–but I held him at a distance. I felt as though I didn’t trust Him any more even though I did, and could still say, that He was good. (I just didn’t trust Him to be good to me. [Parenthetical aside: of course over the years He was incredibly good to me, over and over! I was just stuck in a deep place of broken trust.]) I didn’t really understand how to deal with the pain and emotions I had, and was still, experiencing. Still, since then, I have seen Him bring me healing, even though I missed the intimacy I’d once experienced with Him. WHAT a help Angry With God was though!

I needed for someone to tell me that my feelings were actually normal, and even appropriate, given my pain and suffering. And I needed someone to tell me HOW to get through–or at least truly begin–the path of restoration. Hambrick does so in Angry With God (interestingly subtitled “An honest journey through suffering and betrayal” — that certainly got my attention!); a book that is incredibly practical. Which is what I needed. I needed someone to help me move past the theoretical or philosophical tenets of the Christian faith (that God is good, that He loves us, that Jesus died for all our sin and pain). I didn’t disbelieve those at heart. But I couldn’t figure out how to reconcile those truths with the deep pain I was feeling. FINALLY–a book that practically could guide me through the process of healing–specifically, practically, and kindly.

Step by step and practice by practice, Hambrick leads us through how to pace ourselves, how to embrace activities and relationships that grief may have temporarily caused us to lose, and how to think about our losses (from a big-picture perspective to the close and intimate one). This is one of the most practical and usable books on healing I’ve ever discovered.

…and its most meaningful words to me

Angry With God had so many healing and wonderful words, and so many effective tools and helps for walking through the valleys of pain, betrayal, and suffering. Here are some that impacted me the most:

  • “We can affirm what is real within an emotional experience…without embracing the untrue content that gets embedded in those emotions…” (e.g., that “God is felt to be forgetful or uninterested in our suffering [Psalm 13:1, 44:24]” or “God is felt to have forsaken those who cry out to him [Psalm 22:1-2]”) …we can make peace with the tension…”
  • Pacing the journey through grief and anger, taking the time to lament what has been suffered or lost, and understanding that eventually we can have a different perspective on the journey all are facets of a useful process (my summary, not the author’s).
  • Brainstorm, play, and practice: start small, and understand that a little progress is still very good (my summary).
  • “Progress in grief means your current season of life is no longer defined by the pain from the previous season of life.” (My summary here: Whew!)
  • “But because God made this world to be good and we are made in his image, we get emotionally disrupted when things go painfully awry. This means as we take this journey of grieving our pain, we’re not crazy…We are looking at the shattered pieces of a beautiful work of art, saddened that it’s broken, and wondering how to put it back together again.”

Where you can purchase Angry With God

You can purchase Angry With God from a variety of booksellers, and I’ve linked two of them below:

New Growth Press

Amazon

About the author

Brad Hambrick, ThM, EdD, serves as the Pastor of Counseling at The Summit Church in Durham, NC. He also serves as Assistant Professor of Biblical Counseling at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, a council member of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, and has authored several books including God’s Attributes: Rest for Life Struggles, Making Sense of Forgiveness, and Angry with God, and served as general editor for the Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused curriculum. 

And finally:

Angry With God: An honest journey through suffering and betrayal is the book I never, ever imagined that I would need. But it’s the book I am so immensely grateful for. It offered me a way to begin to process my grief in pain; in practical ways, but ways that would move me ahead, without shame over my emotions. We can know that God, our Shepherd, longs to and offers to walk us through the valleys, and Angry With God outlines specific and helpful ways we can go. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who’s experiencing those pains in their own relationship with God.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from New Growth Press. All opinions shared in this blog post are my own honest ones.

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