If you are angry with God, your anger is misplaced. It doesn’t matter what you are suffering, God is right and you are wrong.
First of all, we must acknowledge that we deserve all of our suffering. Our sins deserve punishment in this life and eternal punishment in hell. None of us can say we don’t deserve suffering.
Second, we must understand that God does not punish His children. Your suffering is not punishment. It might be God disciplining you. It might be the devil attacking you. It might simply be you suffering the consequences of your own sins or the sins of others. It is not God punishing you. God punished His own Son for your sins, so there is no punishment remaining for you.
God does tell us that He disciplines us for our own good. Hebrews tells us, ”My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (12:5-11)
God visits His children with discipline now so that He will not visit us with punishment on Judgment Day. Under discipline, it may seem as though we are forsaken by God, but that is precisely when He is loving and caring for us the most. Through hardship, the Holy Spirit quenches sinful desires and kills the flesh, to prepare us for eternal life.
Do not become bitter at God when He disciplines you. Rather, humble yourself and repent. Confess your sins and receive absolution. Even when God is visiting you with discipline, He also visits you with forgiveness. Even when God disciplines you He wants you to remember His promises to you.
Coping with the trials, affliction, and suffering we face in this life is much more difficult if your faith is not grounded in God’s promises. Then you spend much time and energy trying to figure out why you are suffering. Why me? Why now? Why this? The truth is that the answers to these questions don’t really matter, and we will likely not learn the answers either.
We will suffer in this life because we live in a sinful world and we are sinful people. We will die from this life because we live in a sinful world and we are sinful people.
The devil desires that your suffering in this life would lead you to unbelief, denial, and doubt. Satan wants you to believe that God does not love you. Satan is a liar. Do not believe that God is angry with you and refuses to forgive your sins and thus causes you suffering. Do not believe that God has abandoned you in your suffering.
God is with you in suffering and desires to draw you closer to Himself through it. He does love you. His anger was poured out on Christ, so there remains no anger for you. He wants you in your afflictions, in your desperation to flee to Christ for refuge. Christ has won victory over all that threatens and hurts you, even when it doesn’t feel like it. Through faith, you will survive through all the afflictions you will face in this life. Your resurrection is the only permanent solution, as Luther writes.
The Psalmist writes, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) This is praying to God that He would teach us how short our life is, so that we would be wise in how we spend our few days of life. Not in bitterness and anger, but in trust even amidst suffering.
Numbering our days is also realizing that our suffering will end. Because Jesus suffered and died for us, our suffering will end, and this short, momentary affliction is not worth comparing with the eternal glory that will be revealed to us (cf. Rom. 8:18).
What can these anxious cares avail thee,
These never-ceasing moans and sighs?
What can it help if thou bewail thee
O’er each dark moment as it flies?
Our cross and trials do but press
The heavier for our bitterness.
Be patient and await His leisure
In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whate’er thy Father’s pleasure
And His discerning heart hath sent,
Nor doubt our inmost wants are known
To Him who chose us for His own.
Nor think amide the fiery trial
That God hath cast thee off unheard,
That he whose hopes meet no denial
Must surely be of God preferred.
Time passes and much change doth bring
And sets a bound to ev’rything.
Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving,
Perform thy duties faithfully,
And trust His Word; though undeserving,
Thou yet shalt find it true for thee.
God never yet forsook in need
The soul that trusted Him indeed. (LSB 750 st. 2,3,5,7)