If God didn’t exist, then why was I so angry at Him?
by Avi Snyder | April 14 2023
I grew up in a traditional Jewish home in New York and New Jersey. The fact that I’m Jewish has always been central to my understanding of who I am. But by the time I reached my early twenties, I defined myself as a “Jewish atheist.” Why? Because I was angry.
I’d embraced a philosophy called nihilism which told me that no matter what I accomplished, it all amounted to nothing in the end. So, I concluded, if I wanted to find any kind of contentment or consolation, I had to accept the ultimate futility of my existence, choose to go on living anyway, and draw satisfaction for my life from my work. My life and my work revolved around the professional theater, and I loved my art.
But I found myself caught in a crippling dilemma. Every time I finished a new artistic project that brought me some sense of satisfaction, a thought came back to haunt me: It doesn’t matter. I don’t matter. Everything is ultimately pointless.
One afternoon in 1975, that sense of absolute pointlessness and futility drove me to a breaking point. “How dare You do this to me!” I screamed at God. “How dare You create a pointless universe and put me in the midst of it!”
Then the absurdity of my outrage struck me. I was blaming God for the futility of my life. But if God didn’t exist, then why was I so angry at Him? My anger against God proved that in my heart, I knew He must exist.
I put my anger aside and started to search. God responded by bringing two types of people across my path: Jews for Jesus and genuine Christians who cared enough to tell me the truth.
God had caught me in a two-armed embrace, like a loving pincer movement. On the one side stood Jewish believers who declared what they believed. On the other side stood Gentile believers who demonstrated and explained what they believed.
I’d been reading the Old Testament during this time, and I made some startling discoveries. I discovered that I wasn’t as good as I thought myself to be—at least, not if I measured myself against God’s standard of righteousness and holiness. Just the fact that I’d dismissed God as a farce while at the same time harboring such intense anger at Him pointed out my own sinfulness.
I discovered that because of my sins, I deserved God’s wrath. But despite my sins, I discovered that God loved me with unfathomable love. He loved me so passionately that He promised through Moses and the prophets to send a Messiah who would take upon Himself the wrath and the punishment that my sins deserved. The prophet Isaiah sums it up so well:
He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities…. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all… Who considered he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?… Yet he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:5, 6, 8, 12)
Step by step, I reached the uncomfortable conclusion that if my own Hebrew Scriptures were true, then Jesus had to be the promised Messiah. Once I accepted the authority of the Hebrew Scriptures, I knew it was just a matter of time.
In the early hours of March 14, 1977, I prayed a very simple prayer. I asked God to forgive me, I acknowledged my belief in Yeshua, and I promised to follow Him.
In response to my repentance, Jesus saved me. He saved me from the emotional and philosophical wasteland of nihilism. He saved me from the judgment that I deserved for denying God’s existence while harboring such fierce hostility toward Him in my heart. He removed me from the desert that I’d created, rescued me from the judgment that I deserved, and restored me to a correct relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
I went to bed knowing that what I’d done was right and that it was the most Jewish thing that I could ever do. If Jesus is the promised Jewish Messiah, then we Jews must believe in Him.
Shortly after receiving Yeshua as my Savior and Lord, I encountered Jews for Jesus once again and began a time of regular Bible study with one of their workers. Some six months later, in October 1977, I married my wife, Ruth. One year later, in November 1978, we were invited to join the ministry of Jews for Jesus, and we seized the opportunity.
It’s been a thrilling ride. Over the past four decades, Ruth and I have lived in five countries outside of our native United States: Ukraine, Russia, the UK, Germany, and, most recently, Hungary.
In each country, we’ve had the privilege of declaring Yeshua’s call to repentance and promise of everlasting life. And we’ve had the joy of seeing many people exit an empty life and enter an everlasting relationship with Him through their repentance and faith in Yeshua.
By God’s grace, I’m no longer an atheist. Neither do I falsely believe that my life and endeavors are futile. Neither am I filled with rage. Instead of anger, I have answers. Instead of pointlessness, I have purpose. Instead of living a life that has no meaning, I know, as David wrote in Psalm 23, that “goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” And when I die, I won’t enter some void of non-existence, but rather, “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).
I continued in the professional theater as an actor, director, and writer immediately following my coming to faith in March 1977. But during that time, I had a growing sense that God wanted to put the skills He’d given me to a better use.
I also became deeply involved in the life of the ministry of Jews for Jesus, first through a discipleship program, and then as a volunteer. Ruth and I eventually joined the work of Jews for Jesus full time and haven’t looked back.
Jews Don’t Need Jesus. . .and other Misconceptions: Reflections of a Jewish Believer
Never Ashamed: Stories of Sharing Faith with Scoffers and Skeptics