In the midst of your struggles and pain, perhaps you’ve been tempted to wonder if God hates you. It’s a common temptation to feel this way, especially when life gets extremely difficult. But suffering is never a reason to assume God hates you or that he doesn’t love you. If you feel like God hates you, here are some thoughts that may help you.
Why do some people believe that God hates them?
Perhaps you grew up believing your life would be happy and carefree. But somewhere along the way, your life didn’t turn out as planned. Sickness, loss of a job, or a broken relationship caught you by surprise. You may feel like God didn’t keep his end of the deal to protect you from trouble. It’s tempting to feel like God doesn’t care about you when you’re in pain.
It may be helpful to understand you’re not alone in your suffering. The Bible is full of stories about God’s faithful followers who experienced hardships in their lives. Some of their sufferings were due to their own bad choices, but many suffered for no apparent reason.
Some of these men and women lost loved ones, endured persecution, experienced barrenness, or had their countries taken over by foreign armies. Their situations didn’t have a happy ending, yet we read in Scripture they didn’t waver in their faith.
God has demonstrated His love for us
Scripture informs us that God is holy, and we’re not. Adam and Eve’s choice to disobey God in the garden set in motion sin’s decay and destruction. But in his mercy, God provided the means for all people everywhere to have a relationship with him. He sent Jesus, his only Son, to be a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus’ soul purpose for coming to earth was to pay for our sins. He gave his perfect life as a ransom in exchange for sinful people.
We were weak and could not help ourselves. Then Christ came at the right time and gave His life for all sinners. 7 No one is willing to die for another person, but for a good man, someone might be willing to die. 8 But God showed His love to us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:5-8 NIV)
In Isaiah 53, we get a picture of Jesus’ life and the difficulties he experienced while on earth. He has first-hand experience of how hard life can be. We read that Jesus experienced
- Being despised ( notes say forsaken)
- Man of sorrows(pain)
- Acquainted with grief( notes say sickness)
- People hid their face
Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected[b] by men,
a man of sorrows[c] and acquainted with[d] grief;[e]
and as one from whom men hide their faces[f]
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God and afflicted.
Of course, knowing this won’t necessarily stop your suffering and pain, but it can help you believe that God cares for you. He cared enough to send His Son, and Jesus cared enough to come to earth to experience a difficult life and bear our sins on the cross. So, when we’re suffering, it’s not because God is punishing us. Jesus took all your punishment.
Why do you struggle to understand God’s love for you?
There are different reasons why you may struggle with believing God loves you. Perhaps you agree with some of these reasons.
Trouble in your life
Life’s troubles can catch you by surprise. Jesus warned his followers that this life wouldn’t be easy. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 ESV)
You make God in your own image
You may be tempted to think God is like you, or you make him into who you want him to be. It’s easy to assume we know what God is like, but it’s important to stick to what the Bible says about him to get an accurate understanding.
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? (Numbers 23:19 ESV)
You compare God to people
It’s tempting to assume that God is like the imperfect people in your life. Maybe parents, friends, or pastors who you trusted let you down. Maybe they sinned against you. If you are tempted to compare God to imperfect people, it may be helpful to study what Scripture says about God. God is not like us. Here are a few characteristics of God.
- God is omniscient (all-knowing)-Great is our Lord and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. (Psalm 147:5 ESV)
- God is holy-but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV)
- Jesus was without sin-For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrew 4:15 ESV)
- God doesn’t lie- God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? (Numbers 23:19 ESV)
- God is love- Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love. 9 In this, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:7-10 ESV)
Pray for a deeper understanding of God’s love for you
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10 ESV)
A good way to grow in your understanding of God’s love is to spend time reading Scripture. The Bible explains God’s love for you in these ways.
- The Bible explains the story of creation, fall, and redemption. You read about God’s mercy to his people despite their rebellion. We see God’s initiation towards his people and how he works to bring them back to Himself.
- The Bible explains how God, through Jesus, did what the law could not do to help us fulfill the law’s requirements. It tells us how Jesus was fully man, and fully God came to earth to die for our sins. Those who put their trust and faith in Jesus’ work on the cross are accepted and seen as righteous. For our sake, he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)
- The Bible speaks truth to us. It’s easy to let your emotions cloud your view of God’s love. But studying Scripture helps you understand what’s true. Finally, brothers(and sisters), whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 ESV)
Examples of God’s love in the Bible
So, what can you do when you feel like God hates you? Finding examples of God’s love in the Bible can be helpful.
God sent Jesus to take away our sins-God loves you so completely he provided a way for your sins to be forgiven yesterday, today and forever through Jesus’ death on the cross. In this, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10 ESV)
Jesus’ death put in right standing with God- Jesus’ death not only provided a way for your sins to be forgiven, but God imparts Jesus’ righteousness to you. This means he sees you as righteous before him. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:21-23 ESV)
God is our shepherd-God promises to be our shepherd no matter what we go through. One of the best verses to help you is Psalm 23. This verse describes God as a caring shepherd watching over his sheep. God’s loving care never stops, even when you’re going through the hard stuff in life. He might not take away your pain or solve your problems, but he promises never to leave you or forget about you.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Read God’s Word daily
So, why should you read God’s word every day? Here are five good reasons to spend time every day reading Scripture.
- God’s word build your faith-So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17 ESV)
- God’s word trains you as his follower- All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV)
- God’s word helps us understand and confess our sins- If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9 ESV)
- God’s word helps us understand that God cares for us-God may not take away your suffering, but he promises to stay close to you no matter what you’re going through. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18 ESV)
If, in the midst of your pain and struggles, you’ve been tempted to wonder if God hates you, hopefully, this article will help undo some of your wrong thinking about God. Don’t be afraid to ask God to speak to you through his word. Tell him your temptation to feel like he doesn’t care. Read what Scripture says about who God is and who you are. The truth of God’s word will help you grow to understand God’s love for you.