There are several reasons a person might question whether God is angry with him or her. We tend to evaluate God’s disposition toward us based on our current level of comfort or pleasure. When things go wrong, we might think it is God punishing us in anger. Other times, we might feel far from God and think that He is giving us “the silent treatment” because He is mad. Sometimes we are angry with ourselves over a sin or mistake we’ve committed and assume God must be angry, too. Are any of these valid ways to determine whether God is mad at me?
It is true that God gets angry. However, when we ask if God is mad at us, we usually don’t have in mind the biblical description of divine anger. God’s anger is based on His holiness and is a just response to violations of His character. It is passionate and motivated by righteousness. His anger is not petty or temperamental; neither is it out of proportion. God is omnipotent, so His anger is never a response to feeling threatened or belittled. Rather, He is angry at evil.
God is not like humans (Numbers 23:19; Isaiah 55:8–9). “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:20). God’s anger stems from His justice and goodness. He is angry at that which goes against who He is and against the good He has intended for His creation (Romans 1:18–32). God has anger over sin and the destruction it brings.
We read about the wrath of the Lord throughout Scripture. For example, in Exodus 22:22–24 God warns the Israelites, “Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.” In Deuteronomy 11:16–17 God’s anger is aroused over idolatry, with the result that “it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the LORD is giving you.” The Old Testament prophets speak of the anger of the Lord, and we see God judge His people (e.g., Isaiah 5:22–30; Jeremiah 42:9–18; Ezekiel 5:13; Psalm 106) as well as the other nations (Micah 5:15; Nahum 1:2–3).
Yet even in these examples, we see God’s mercy and love. Psalm 106:40–46 says, “Therefore the LORD was angry with his people and abhorred his inheritance. He gave them into the hands of the nations, and their foes ruled over them. Their enemies oppressed them and subjected them to their power. Many times he delivered them, but they were bent on rebellion and they wasted away in their sin. Yet he took note of their distress when he heard their cry; for their sake he remembered his covenant and out of his great love he relented. He caused all who held them captive to show them mercy” (see also Isaiah 48:9; Ezekiel 5:13). In his prayer of dedication over the temple, Solomon acknowledges the ways the Israelites would fail in keeping the covenant and that they would suffer the consequences laid out in Deuteronomy. Yet he trusts that God will respond with forgiveness and mercy when people call on Him (1 Kings 8:22–53). God sent the prophets to warn His people to repent, and He gave them ample opportunity to return to Him (2 Chronicles 36:15–16). He sent prophets such as Jonah to the Gentile nations as well. Even in His pronouncements of judgment, God spoke of preserving a remnant, and He always did so. The Old Testament is replete with promises of the coming Messiah who would bring ultimate restoration. God is patient and loving, offering and making the way of restoration. He is not an angry God who easily gets mad at us.
In the New Testament we see Jesus’ anger (Mark 3:5) and read of God’s wrath to come (John 3:36; Romans 2:5; Colossians 3:6; Revelation 11:18; 19:15). But we also see that Jesus delivers us from that wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9). Again, we see that God’s anger is just and that it always comes with mercy.
God is slow to anger (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 86:15; 145:8). His anger has a limit, and there is always the prospect of forgiveness: “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him” (Psalm 103:7–11).
The more we understand the holiness of God, the more we understand how His anger is justified, and His mercy and patience become that much more astounding. Second Peter 3:9 assures us that God “is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” We do know that God will judge the world, but we also know that “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3:36). For those who love God and accept Christ, there is no fear of God’s wrath: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment” (1 John 4:18).
If you have put your faith in Jesus Christ, you need not fear God’s wrath. God is not angry with you. He has shown His love for you and has made peace with you through Christ (Romans 5:1, 8). You are not under condemnation any more (Romans 8:1), and nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:31–32, 38–39).
As a point of clarification, sin still has consequences in this world, even after salvation. We still deal with the natural consequences of our own wrongdoing. When we break someone’s trust, for example, we can expect hardship in that relationship. If we commit a crime, we can expect to suffer the punishment the state metes out. If we put our trust in things other than God, we can expect to be disappointed. None of these consequences are necessarily indicators of God’s anger, though. We also endure the consequences of the sins of other people, as well as the effects of living in a fallen world. Being a child of God does not mean living a problem-free life. And problems do not mean God is mad at us.
It is also good to distinguish between God’s anger and His discipline (Hebrews 12:4–11). God disciplines His children to produce “a harvest of righteousness and peace” (verse 11). We can endure trials with joy, knowing that “the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:3; cf. Romans 5:3–5)
When we are in difficult circumstances or we feel far from God, it is good to examine our hearts and lives. When we are in pleasant circumstances or we feel especially close to God, we should also examine our hearts and lives. When we recognize sin, we should repent, knowing that God will forgive (1 John 1:9). Regardless of the cause of our troubles, we can trust that God will use them to refine us and to grow us to be more like Him (Romans 8:28–30). We need not worry that God is mad at us. Rather, we should turn to Him in prayer and rest in the promises of His Word (Jude 1:24–25; Ephesians 1:11–14). We can rely on the unchanging nature of His character and the depth of His love (Ephesians 3:16–21; James 1:17–18; Hebrews 13:8). We can call out to Him for relief.
Because God is slow to anger and abounding in love, He has made a way of forgiveness, freedom, and true life—Jesus Christ. God Himself bore the burden of His wrath against sin so that we might be free (2 Corinthians 5:16–21).
Is God mad at me? If you have trusted in Jesus Christ, your sins have been paid for, and God’s righteous wrath against you has been spent. If you have not trusted in Jesus, His offer of forgiveness and new life stands (John 3:16–18; Ephesians 2:1–10; 2 Corinthians 5:16–21). Receive it today!