Most people get their image of God from their relationship with their father. That’s natural, but sadly, none of our fathers were perfect. Consequently, we all have distorted notions about God, regardless of how carefully we read the scriptures, and regardless of how decent our fathers were.
If you thought your father hated you for some reason, then you probably feel as though God hates you, too. If your father was frequently angry, then you probably feel as though God is angry at you.
Also, you may have things on your conscience that you have not resolved. This can result in your feeling as though God is angry at you, even when He is not. The feeling comes from inside you, not from God. The only cure for that is to resolve the problem–change your behavior, make restitution, accept your consequences whatever they may be, and move on. But even before you do that, you should know that God is not angry with you.
I’m not talking about your theology. Your theology may be as correct as it can be. If you’re Christian, you have been taught that God loves you. You’ve probably memorized John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” You probably tell everybody that you know that God loves you.
But when things are going badly–when the car breaks down or somebody gets sick–what immediately springs to mind is that God is doing to you what you deserve. Right?
God does not hate you, and He’s not mad at you. The bad thing that just happened to you (or your spouse/child/parent/friend) did not happen because God is punishing you for what you did. No, I don’t know what you’ve done (and you don’t know what I’ve done, either), but it does not really matter. That’s not how things happen. Both good and bad things happen to everybody.
Here’s what is true:
- God loves you, and more than that, He likes you. He made you, and He gave you a combination of abilities and characteristics that are unlike those of anybody else He ever made. He did that for a reason; He has a purpose for you.
- God mourns for the damage you have done to yourself by whatever misbehaving you have done–and He mourns for the others who were harmed by it. He also mourns for the damage that was done to you by others completely apart from your conduct, that was not your fault. He feels your pain (and theirs), and He stands ready to do whatever is necessary to heal the wounds and reform your character so you don’t hurt anyone else.
- Your unique talents will be no good to Him until you let Him adjust your character, so that you will use your gifts to help Him accomplish His goals rather than to pursue your own. There is no way to skip this part; until you surrender yourself to Him, what you produce will be misdirected and misused.
- He is on your side. He will do only good to you. That’s His nature.
- Our world is dominated by demonic majesties and their servants and dupes, and they love to cause pain to you and to everyone you love. The bad thing that just happened is not God’s doing. He will fix it, but in this world, He only works through His appointed, human agents. So He’s waiting for a bunch of people like you and me to grow to such maturity as He can use us to fix what is broken. And finally,
- God paints on the canvas of time. Very few things happen instantaneously. Most plans of God take time to mature, and to us, it seems like a long time, whether it’s a week, two years, three decades, or twenty centuries. A lot of people think God could do things instantly if He liked, but I think the truth is that He could not do that without destroying His greater work of creating beings who serve Him out of their own, free choice. So the Instant Fix(tm) is not going to happen. That’s just a fact of our universe, so get used to the idea.
The important point is that God is not like your angry father. Your Dad may have said things to you like “Everything you touch turns to s**t.” Mine did. God does not believe that about you, and you should not believe it about yourself. It is not true.
Even if it is the case that things you have done in the past have not turned out so well, it means nothing. God intends to change that, and He knows what He is doing. God made you for a purpose, and with Him motivating, encouraging, and empowering you, eventually you will do what you were made to do, and you will do it well. Your history is not your destiny.
You need to remind yourself frequently, “God does not feel about me the way I feel about myself.” You need to recognize that what God thinks about you, as aggressively, unremittingly positive as it is, is true. And, you need to pray daily, maybe even several times a day, “Lord Jesus, change me so that what I think about myself is what You think about me.”