A Heart Turned Cold

Written by: Natalie Yeo (Photo by: Marvin Ng)

My story of anger and rebellion

Have you ever been angry at God? Some of us have blamed him for a bad breakup while others have blamed him for the untimely death of their loved ones. Perhaps, you might have been angry at the Lord for a time in your life, in which you felt He had failed or disappointed you.

I understand how this feels like, because I, myself, have gotten to a point in my life where I was angry with God to the point of spiritual rebellion.

I had lived much of my teenage life wondering why my father had lived his life with a poverty mindset, as exemplified by his unwillingness to discard material things for fear that he might need it again in the future. For years, I had resented how this affected my parents’ relationship and our family life. Anger and bitterness began to build up towards my father as tensions flared at home.

None of us were able to convince him out of what seemed like chronic hoarding. I grew frustrated at the arguments that ensued, tired at the way my mother made futile attempts to discard what he would take back from the “to-throw” pile, and disgruntled at the fact that he didn’t see a need for change.

I better understood my father’s mindset when I came to know of the historical details of my paternal ancestry in mid-2010. It was the family gathering where the family tree was drawn, and photographs of my ancestors were passed around. That afternoon was also the first time I “met” my grandfather.

I had never seen my paternal grandfather in person as he had passed on long before I was born, leaving behind my grandmother and seven children. My father was the eldest, but he was merely 11 years old when he lost his father. This also meant that a boy had to now fulfil the “father’s role” in the family.

If this doesn’t sound tough enough, following my grandfather’s death, my grandmother was not left with much of an inheritance, leaving her to financially provide for herself and seven young children. My father, along with his younger siblings, worked odd jobs to help with the family finances. With no hope in sight, my grandmother fell into severe depression.

As the darkness intensified, it climaxed to a drastic point where my father and his siblings painfully witnessed their mother trying to take her own life. Thankfully, with the help of neighbours, my grandmother was saved before the suicide deed could be accomplished. In addition, my youngest aunt and uncle were given up for adoption, and their stories of reconciliation to the family were not the easiest.

On one particular night (weeks after our family gathering), I was readying myself for bedtime when I suddenly felt a heavy weight on my heart: a burden and cry for my paternal family. An overwhelming sense of injustice and unfairness gripped my thoughts and I began to weep uncontrollably. I felt a deep loss in my heart — as if I were my 11-year-old father grieving the loss of his father, witnessing his mother’s suicide attempt, or watching his siblings being given up for adoption — and anger burning in my chest.

Along with the pent-up emotions and resentment towards my father, I could barely control my thoughts and what spilled out of my mouth after: “Lord, why did this happen to our family? Why did grandpa have to die? Why didn’t You do anything to intervene? What were we to do with this generational pain and lack?” 

I fell asleep that evening feeling sore and incredibly angry at God, wishing that He could have changed the course of my family’s history and protected them from the pain and sorrow they had withstood.

My heart began to harden towards to Lord, as if He simply didn’t want to come to my family’s rescue. As it turned cold, I blamed God for how the generational sins had cost my generation to suffer. My rebellion meant that my heart had turned away from the Lord.

Through this period of rebellion and wrestling with the Lord, I learnt two personal lessons:

#1. Admit and confess your anger

Following the sobbing prayers, it was sobering for me to realise how our gracious God allows us to bring our angry and honest thoughts before Him. The more I pondered over this, the more a dissatisfaction grew in me: We must not allow ourselves to grow accustomed to spiritual rebellion and to fall into sin while we are angry (Ephesians 4:26). Proverbs 28:14 (NIV) says, “Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.”

Without confession of our anger, there is no letting go — no forgiveness can be given or released. As I navigated through my anger, I felt like one of the Israelites who had fallen to sin in the wilderness and gone against what Hebrews 3:15 (NIV) writes: “As has just been said: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.’” Still the Lord lovingly assured me that He has not turned His gaze away from me.

#2. Allow the Lord to make your heart tender

I am a firm believer of Ezekiel 36:26 (ESV) where God says, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” This happened to me, almost in an instant.

In the thick of my spiritual rebellion in 2010, a visiting pastor — who didn’t know me nor the dire spiritual situation I was going through at the time — prayed for me. This prayer was the moment my heart was made flesh again as it brought revelation and understanding to my pain, anger and rebellion:

“God has seen your heart; He has seen the purity of your heart and your deep desire for Him. But there are generations of resistance against you. There’s a long line of pain and suffering in your family. I want you to listen to me closely: Tonight, it ends.”

When I heard these lines, the heaviness broke loose and what felt like molten lava flushed through my heart, softening it. The pastor continued:

“The Lord is a warrior over you and He destroys every evil thing right now. God is rising up and let the enemy be scattered in your life, in your family’s life now and forever.”

Hot tears streamed down my face and I began to weep uncontrollably. This time, however, I knew that these were tears as a result of my heart claiming the victory that was coming upon my family and the generations to come! For the first time in days, I went home with a tender heart towards the Lord.

Sometimes, we build such high barricades and defenses to keep God out, when what we really need is a fresh touch from Him — to know His character, love, and compassion anew. I was once again reminded of Psalm 145:8 (NIV): “The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” I needed to be reminded that God was slow to anger and abounding in love towards me, thereby stirring up a new desire to do likewise.

If your heart has gone astray, may you make room for the Lord to work in your heart again. Let its hardened walls collide with His relentless love. As we present our imperfect heart before God, He shall bring healing and revelation to your circumstance.

During my struggle with spiritual rebellion, the Lord showed me that my father’s lifestyle was not solely a result of my father’s personal decisions but also because of the generational curse and spiritual foothold present in my family line. Instead of being angry, rebellious, or ignorant, I learnt of the need to pray for my family like a warrior in battle. I better understand intercession today, in which I have a caught a glimpse of God’s heart for struggling families.

Often times, it is the struggle that leaves us with an unmistakable limp. But it is also the limp that reminds us of how faithful God is to us. May we never fault God for giving us limps; instead, let us thank Him for precious opportunities to rely on Him again and again. Until His second coming, I am convinced that God is not done making right the wrongs, so hold fast to hope and stay close to your beloved Saviour!

NATALIE is an introvert, yet loves investing intentional time on people. Her favourite colour is red, yet her wardrobe is filled with hues of blue. She is an open well when it comes to meeting and embracing girls with histories that can be transformed to become His stories. Share in her journey @intangibility.


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