Everyone has questions about God. In 2015, a New York Times article highlighted the top questions googled about God. Some of them were predictable. For example, number one was “Who created God?” That’s a question I’ve heard dozens of times, even once by my own children. Number two was “Why does God allow suffering?” This one also seems to come up frequently, especially among those curious about religion and the idea of a higher power.
I was surprised by the third most googled question, though. Before searchers asked, “Why doesn’t God show himself?” or “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?” they wanted to know “Why does God hate me?”
There’s a lot of pain behind that question. It makes sense that this isn’t a question we hear out loud, like “Who made God?” “Why does God hate me?” doesn’t sound deep or philosophical. It has a frustrated, even defeated tone; it discloses intimate details about the way we view ourselves. We feel despised, and opening up about it makes us vulnerable. Rather than expose our feelings, we ask Google why the God who is called “love” seems to hate us.
Assessing Our Internal Worthiness and External Circumstances
I suspect there are two reasons we think God hates us. The first is internal: We suspect God hates us because of something in us. Maybe it’s the thing you hate about yourself. How you look, how much you weigh, or, sadly, even the color of your skin. If you call yourself a Christian, or religious, maybe it’s the concept of sin. You fall short of your own standards, so God’s are probably shattered. Loaded with guilt, you begin to hate yourself and it isn’t hard for you to see why God might hate you too.
The second reason is external. The circumstances of life seem to suggest that God must not really care about us. If he did, then why would he allow me to lose my marriage, job, health, child, etc.? We see others doing well in life and assume they must be God’s favored children. The way we perceive our surroundings seems to betray the idea that God is loving.
Looking at our internal worthiness and our external circumstances can cause us to think God hates us. That’s why the Bible teaches us not to look in those places in order to determine how God feels about us.
Looking to God’s Word Instead
Paul said in Romans 5:6-8, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Who are the objects of God’s love? Here, one of Jesus’ apostles described them as weak, ungodly, unrighteous, sinners. Translation? God’s love for people isn’t dependent upon their level of religious devotion. He loved us as his creation even when our hearts were in rebellion against him. If God’s love for you wasn’t dependent on your worthiness while you were at your worst, why would it be now?
Paul would go on to say in that same letter,
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:35-39)
In Romans 5, Paul showed that God’s love for you wasn’t due to something in you. In Romans 8, he showed that your circumstances (as painful as they may be) don’t sever you from divine love. Even Jesus’ little lambs walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and are beloved as they do.
If you want to be sure God loves you, don’t look inside to yourself, or outside to your circumstances. Look up to Jesus. The apostle John said,
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 Jn. 4:9-10)
The cross of Christ was the ultimate sign from God that he doesn’t hate humanity. When you feel unlovable, or think your circumstances indicate God has given up on you, remember the cross. It’s there that God’s love was made visible for you, and for the whole world to see.