Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly recently said he’s angry at God for not protecting him from sexual misconduct allegations and a “witch hunt” by politically motivated media.
“You know, am I mad at God? Yeah, I’m mad at him,” O’Reilly said on his “No Spin News” web program after The New York Times reported that he had paid $32 million in a sexual harassment claim just weeks before Fox News extended his contract earlier this year.
“I wish I had more protection. I wish this stuff didn’t happen. I can’t explain it to you. Yeah, I’m mad at him,” O’Reilly explained. “I truly believe that these people at The New York Times are out to hurt people with whom they disagree. They don’t want me in the marketplace. That’s what this is all about.”
O’Reilly left his position at Fox News in April after the Times reported that he had paid $13 million to five women to settle sexual harassment claims.
The former anchor has insisted that the allegations are false. “It’s horrible what I went through, horrible what my family went through,” he said. “The pain it brings to my children is indescribable. Indescribable.”
O’Reilly’s anger at God isn’t unusual when someone is struggling with difficulties in their life. Many people feel this way when they’ve faced an injustice, a loss, or even consequences to their own sinful behavior. They lash out at God, who’s supposed to be in control of everything. Why did he let this happen? Why me? Why now? And in the words of O’Reilly, “Why didn’t you protect me?”
There are a couple of answers to these questions, depending on the circumstances. If you are suffering from consequences of your own bad actions, then you have no right to be angry at anyone except yourself. You are only getting what you deserve — and that’s true even when you’ve been forgiven. Our relationships might be healed by our repentance, but this doesn’t mean we always escape the consequences of our actions. The murderer can be forgiven, but he still goes to jail. As Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”
We suffer by our own hand, but this doesn’t mean God has abandoned us. We learn from our mistakes when we suffer from them. If we never face a consequence, we won’t change our behavior. We’ll keep doing what we’re doing, hurting others and hurting ourselves. So, even when we are suffering the fallout of our choices, God is showing us grace — the severe grace of the refining fire, the pains of learning his ways and how to become a better person.
As for suffering that is not the result of our actions — death, sickness, loss of employment, slanderous accusations, etc. — it is a natural part of the grieving process to be angry, and sometimes that anger is directed at God. David expressed anger toward his heavenly Father when his enemies attacked him. He complained about the unfairness of letting the wicked prosper. It’s a natural human reaction, and it’s healthy to express the full range of emotions in the grieving process.
It’s important, however, “to be angry, and sin not” (Ephesians 4:26). We can have anger born of pain, but it can’t transform into blame, bitterness, or faithlessness. It can’t linger in our hearts as if God has wronged us by causing the suffering or not protecting us from it. God is sovereign. He is in control of all things, but he is working all things out for good, not evil. Hope can spring from the ashes of despair. Joy can be manifest in suffering. Through pain and injustice, we can grow as we learn humility, patience, and empathy for others. These are virtues often attained through hardship. Blessings can flow in our tears.
When facing suffering, maybe we should lift our hands to God instead of shaking our fist at him. Reach for him as a crying child reaches for his father for comfort and assurance. A parent doesn’t always protect the child from stumbling, from hurt and pain. To do so would be to violate the free will of the child. But this doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us.
Like a parent, God is never distant from us when we’re in pain. He knows what we’re feeling. He understands our hearts. Instead of showing anger toward God, trust him. Don’t let suffering make you bitter — learn from it so you can be better.