I'd Rather Be Right Than Righteous
I spent over five years in the Philippines, and during all that time, I never talked to a single person who expressed anger at God. It’s just not comprehensible in Filipino culture to be angry at God.
And I met many, many hurting people. As the director of a home for survivors of trafficking I met girls and women who had every reason in the world to be angry. And the majority of them definitely expressed anger and frustration. Frustration for being abused by family, “friends” and significant others. Frustration and hopelessness and shame and guilt for everything they’d been subjected to. They were raped, beaten, sold against their will. They are rejected by communities and labeled as dirty. Marginalized.
Their anger and frustration was never expressed towards God. Authority and respect for authority in Filipino culture are lived at a level that is, as an American, incomprehensible to me in many ways. I think that anger is a natural human emotion, and one that we have every right to experience, but I sometimes wonder, if, as Americans, we take that right a little bit too far.
When Job was tested in the Old Testament, he did not blame God. He questioned him, and he expressed the injustice of it, but he did not blame God. He recognized God’s authority and power as supreme, his right to give and take away as he deemed best, and he submitted himself to God, again and again. Job was declared righteous.
I wonder if our “right” to be angry sometimes looks more like the “curse God and die” that Job’s wife recommended than the righteousness that Job displayed.
God loves us and promises to be with us. But he doesn’t promise much more than that, does he? He doesn’t promise a life that’s grief-free, and he doesn’t promise that we won’t experience pain or injustice. He promises that he will be with us, He will give us the strength to face whatever trial comes our way, and he will avenge us from injustice, one day.
He also tells us to fight for justice and to fight for others who are experiencing injustice. Please don’t misunderstand me, I believe with all my heart we are to continue to do just that.
But I find, at least for myself, the times I’m getting angry at God are the time I feel like my own “rights” are being denied. But how many of the things I think are “rights” can actually be classified as “wants? ”
I try to remember this, when I feel like my “rights” are being denied. When I feel like God could give me more, but is just choosing not to.
Because God doesn’t owe me anything does he? He is GOD. I owe him everything, not the other way around.
Job’s wife was angry, and rightfully so.
But Job was righteous.
Often, I would rather be right than righteous.
Lord, give me the strength to be righteous.
Written by Crystal Sprague, Executive Director of My Refuge House, a safe home that provides trauma care for survivors of sex trafficking in Cebu, Philippines.
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