God Loves Me?
Why God’s Love Seems a Sick Joke
I fully understand if you feel ripped apart by hurt, or are even furious, over the actions or inaction of a God who claims to love you. There are indeed times when everything seems to scream that God is cruel and guilty of favoritism. In fact, I suspect that most Christians imagine God’s personal love for them is rather shallow and that God favors others over them. If I know anything about God, I know that all who think this way are being robbed of so much joy and fulfillment that my heart breaks for them. Despite having written much trying to correct this tragedy, however, I profoundly understand why it continues to seem like twaddle to many of us.
Even if it is safe to presume that to be passionately loved by an astonishingly good, supernatural being would be extraordinarily wonderful, simple logic compels the conclusion that everyone’s fantasies of the precise implications of such love are likely to be wildly inaccurate. There are six basic reasons for our guesses about what divine love would look like being seriously mistaken – six logical necessities that confuse so many of us:
1. To be perfect, an infinite being must act bewilderingly differently from our expectations.
2. Passionately loving diverse people equally makes it impossible to treat them identically. .
3. Often, one’s feelings do not reflect reality. Our failure to feel loved cannot prove we are not loved.
4. Like the ever-so-holy, Bible-revering spiritual leaders who crucified the Son of God, the actions of people claiming to be godly must not be mistaken for acts of God.
5. Appallingly many of us have suffered the consequences of fake love. Some suffer so deeply that they end up skeptical or even fearful of love. This makes it vital that we not confuse the fickle or hypocritical ‘love’ of humans with the exquisite beauty, purity and selfishness of God’s love.
6. No matter how unlovable some of us might think ourselves, for the God of infinite love, no one is unlovable.
Left unexplored, these statements will never soothe our pain. Insight and healing come by looking deeper into each point. Let’s do it.
1. What Makes God so Unpredictable?
Being in the image of God means there are many points of similarity between us and God. This gives us enormous dignity. Far more exciting than any ego boost, however, being in God’s image is priceless because it opens the way for us to commune with the most beautiful and astonishing person in the universe. It enables us to understand our magnificent Creator and to delight in his companionship. On the other hand, the Almighty Lord is in every way vastly greater than us. This, of course, works in the opposite direction, making it hard for us to understand and relate to him.
The best way I can illustrate this paradox is by pointing out that children are in the image of their parents. For example, just as Adam and Eve were in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27), Scripture says Adam’s child, Seth, was in the image and likeness of Adam (Genesis 5:3). Nevertheless, there is so much about a young child’s parents that, at least for now, are beyond the little one’s understanding. The stark differences between a little child and her parents are critical to her security and well-being, and yet they contribute to much frustration. As we all know, there are times when even the best parental decisions seem cruel and unfair to a child.
Likewise, the enormous difference between the Almighty and us are as thrilling as the similarities we share with him. They make him not only exciting and fascinating, but a far better friend to us than any human is capable of being. On the other hand, God’s superior powers take him beyond our understanding and complicate our relationship with him.
Believe me: I understand your rage if you feel like clenching your fist and screaming heavenward, “If God really loved me, he would . . .” The blind arrogance in trying to complete that sentence, however, is in imagining we can somehow dream up how someone whose every ability soars stupendously beyond our comprehension would act if endowed with perfect love for us.
We have experienced no one else whose ways are infinitely higher than ours, whose intelligence is mind-numbingly beyond our comprehension, whose perfection leaves us flabbergasted, whose limitless powers are constrained by mind-bogglingly intense love that extends around the world and to innumerable people in the decades or centuries to come who will end up impacted in ways we cannot even dream by what happens to you or me. How, exactly, is such a unique, flawlessly good, love-filled God meant to behave?
Dare we, using brain cells he gave us, arrogantly pit our puny intellects against the One who alone has everything figured out, and accuse him of incompetence? Do we think we could somehow travel beyond time, exalt ourselves to the highest heaven, superhumanly enter into the presence of the One “dwelling in unapproachable light whom no man has seen, nor can see” (1 Timothy 6:16), whose terrifying responsibility extends to considering to the minutest detail everything in the entire universe, and have the audacity to accuse him of being inconsiderate?
Relating to someone mind-bendingly superior to us is the highest of all adventures, but it necessitates the ability to tolerate mystery. It is impossible to top the wonder and security of having the greatest-ever person head-over-heels in love with us and selflessly committed to using his incredible powers to continually lavish upon us whatever is best. The bewildering thing, however, is that, relative to divine perfection, our ability to know what is best is as pathetic as that of a willful, know-it-all two-year-old compared with his devoted mother.
Although the Infinite Lord is equally above us all, the implications for us can range from highly problematical to inconsequential, depending upon how much we decide to place our faith in God’s love, wisdom and goodness, rather than in our own.
The Word of God is emphatic that it is solely through faith that we can have spiritual life. Disturbingly, since as Christians we live by faith (Romans 1:17; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 2:20; 3:11; Hebrews 10:38), it follows that we die by doubt. No matter how deadly doubt is, however, greater still is the power of returning even to a glimmer of faith. Many wonderful Christians find themselves continually battling horrendous doubts. Not only is that no reason for alarm, their battles make them heroes in heaven’s eyes. What is spiritually deadly is not gut-wrenching battles, but forever giving in to doubt.
Actually, most of us have astonishing faith; it’s just that it’s faith in our infallibility in knowing what will turn out to be best, rather than faith in our all-knowing, omnipotent Lord’s infallibility.
As with so many puzzles, what to us seems utterly incomprehensible now, will seem obvious when all is revealed. What currently seems never-ending is an infinitesimal fragment of eternity. What seems an intolerable disaster we will see in a staggeringly different light when we discover the unforeseeable twist at the end of the story.
We might lack the brains to power a headache, but that does not faze the God who keeps on loving us. All he asks is that we trust him. To doubt is to exalt our intellect above God’s. Don’t let it rob you of life’s greatest adventure.
2. Why God Never Treats Two People the Same
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God passionately loved each of us equally? I am certain he does. Bitter reality, however, seems to burst this balloon, leaving us with nothing but hot air as we plummet in crushing disappointment. The chilling truth is that God does not treat us equally. Like the cruelest arctic wind, this irrefutable fact seems to howl that God has favorites and that you and I are not one of them. Where’s the love in that?
Our dilemma is that because each of us is wondrously unique, it is impossible for loving us equally to translate into treating us identically.
Suppose a mother thinks the world of each of her three children and loves each of them as passionately as humanly possible for anyone to love. Although she remains at her baby’s side almost every moment of every day and seems to tend to its every whim, she sends her two elder children to school. The eldest is given more chores and other age-appropriate responsibilities that he resents, but also privileges, such as being allowed to stay up later, that the middle child envies. Despite these children often failing to understand it, however, treating them unequally is as much a manifestation of motherly love as anything their mother could possibly do for them. Likewise, God, knowing each of us in supernatural detail and understanding everything infinitely better than we can, proves the perfection of his love by treating us as individuals.
Here are some of the many reasons why we end up needlessly envious of other Christians:
(1) Far too many Christians are less than honest in that they deliberately highlight the positive and omit their struggles, failures and hardships.
(2) Even without deliberate concealment, Christians who receive more divine blessings than us, often secretly suffer more than us.
For example, the Apostle Paul is far more famous and revered by far more Christians than I ever will. Likewise, he had far more supernatural experiences and performed far more miracles. Nevertheless, I understand enough about all it cost him and all his sufferings that I would never want to swap places with him. Indeed, I am in such awe of all the suffering he endured that, quite seriously, I would count it an honor to spend all eternity polishing his shoes.
(3) There are seasons in our spiritual lives. We each have a mix of easy times and hard times.
Often, Christians who give glowing testimonies are spiritual honeymooners who have no idea of the hard times ahead of them. In fact, some will not even last the distance.
(4) Almost inevitably, we think the other Christian’s field seems greener.
For example, I have been deeply envious of my wife’s walk with God, and have felt devastatingly inferior to her spiritually, whereas she has looked at me and felt just as envious and spiritually inferior to me.
(5) We often mistake the approval of other Christians for God’s blessing.
(6) The sins of covetousness and worldliness can entice us to pine for the wrong things, such as money, fame and ease.
(7) “Do what you wanna do, be what you wanna be,” is the devil’s favorite song.
(8) Unlike most of us, God knows it is not miracles but hard times that end up achieving the most of lasting (eternal) value in people’s lives.
(9) Like the human body, the body of Christ has many different parts, each of which is indispensable and, of necessity, must be treated differently.
(10) Love is the antidote to envy.
To draw much more help and encouragement from these ten sub-points, please see Why we Needlessly Feel Envious or Inferior.
3. Confusing True Love with Fake Love
Many child abusers and certain other cruel people use the word love as con artists in order to manipulate their victims or to try to justify disgusting behavior. Others use the word when they really mean selfishness and lust, or a fickle, temporary emotional surge with little more substance than a drug-induced high that eventually fades and ends in a downer. It is said of romantic love – better called self-centered infatuation – that “all is fair in love and war.” That’s appropriate because that type of ‘love’ is as dangerous as war. It is cruel and intoxicatingly deceptive. Divine love is altogether different.
For a little more about the vast difference between genuine love and what the world commonly calls love, see Real Love.
Remember that the fruit of the Spirit – what grows in the life of anyone filled with God because it is the very nature of God – is love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Please take a moment to consider the implications of each word, marveling that each is a facet of the very essence of God. I omitted joy from the list to give it special attention. God is not a sourpuss. He delights in you. Making you happy makes him happy.
Real love – God’s type of love – is faithful. It never gives up. It keeps on giving. It forever strives to see a person in the best possible light.
For more help when so wounded by fake love that it taints your perception of love, see Feeling Uncomfortable About Love.
4. People Claiming to be God’s Representatives
Even the devil, says 2 Corinthians 11:14, masquerades as an angel of light. The New Testament is filled with warnings about false teachers and prophets slipping into the church and deceiving many because they seem to be genuine Christians acting on God’s behalf.
I have written much on this important matter. See, for example, Spiritual Abuse: Its Cause & Cure.
5. Confusing Feelings with Reality
In the early days of aviation, planes had so little instrumentation that pilots were forced to rely on their feelings to detect the plane’s angle. As any modern pilot will tell you, it was exceptionally hazardous. If feelings can be dangerously unreliable in the physical realm, feelings are even more misleading when it comes to spiritual reality, especially when the enemy of our souls is the deceiver who can never change God’s love and can only mess with our feelings.
No matter how powerful and convincing our feelings – or lack of them – they remain feelings, not reality. They can sometimes line up with spiritual reality but they can just as often be treacherously unreliable indicators of spiritual reality.
For more about why it is unspiritual to trust feelings, see:
6. Utterly unlovable?
There’s a final misconception that drives some of us to sneer at the notion of God loving us.
Some people are so arrogant as to think – or at least give the appearance of thinking – that everyone should worship them. There are others, however, seeing nothing lovable about themselves, feel compelled to conclude that not even the God of the impossible could love them. This confusion comes from looking at it back to front. The Perfect One loves, not because of what is in our heart, but because of what is in his heart; not for what we can give him, but for what he can give us. He sees, not just with holy eyes, but through eyes of love, and through a cross-shaped prism that obliterates all our filth and failings. As they say: love is blind. The Exalted One sees you as worth the costliest sacrifice in the universe – and he has proved it.
Don’t forget Why we Needlessly Feel Envious or Inferior.
Not to be sold. © Copyright, 2021 Grantley Morris. Not to be copied in whole or in part without citing this entire paragraph. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings by Grantley Morris available free at the following internet site www.net-burst.net Freely you have received, freely give.
Bible Versions Used
King James Version
King James Version