Why Does God Hate Me?
Why does God hate me? That is a question people ask Google an average of 2,442 times per month for a total of 29,304 a year! (1). That is a question I have asked myself, perhaps, thousands of times in my life. It is natural, I think, to assume the reason bad things seam to perpetually happen in our lives is because God not only does not love us but actually hates us. It is easy for people who have easy or comfortable lives to say that God loves them, but it is often difficult, if not impossible, for people in the throngs of suffering and pain to say the same thing.
When we are overcome with the emotions of being wounded, of grief, pain, guilt, shame, or anger we often think God hates us, as do we when we experience life changing events such as injury, chronic pain or illness, repeated job loss, failed relationships, abuse, the death of a loved one, wrongful conviction, a deep sense of unworthiness and self-shame. When it seams that everyone else hates us, and we hate ourselves, it seams logical to think that God hates us as well.
Even if we are living in unrepentant sin, God does not hate us nor does he want us to think that he does. God loves us at our worst but does does not want us to stay that way and he wants us to love and trust him enough to turn our lives over to him. It is perfectly acceptable to be honest with God, and we might as well be honest as we can’t hide anything from him. If we are angry with God because we don’t understand what he is doing in our life we can and should be honest in talking with him, though we should not accuse God of doing wrong as that is a sin, but luckily if we have falsely accused God of doing us wrong he will willingly forgive us for that, and all other sins, if we trust him and ask for forgiveness.
If you feel like God has abandoned you than you are in good company as many people in the Bible have felt that way as well. Naomi and her family went to a strange land because of a famine in their home land, and while they were there Naomi lost her husband and her sons and felt like God had abandoned her and even told Ruth, her daughter in-law, that God had turned against her. However, God turned the suffering of Naomi and Ruth into good and not only were they taken care of physically, through Ruth’s bloodline Jesus came into the world.
There is not a “one size fits all” explanation for why we suffer, especially when it is unjust and not of our own making, but it is typically best not to assume we know the mind of God on the matter as his ways are higher than our ways, (Isaiah 55:8-9). Even in our sufferings God is actively working to bring fullness out of our emptiness like he did for Naomi and for Job.
During the Holocaust there were a lot of those among the Jewish people who thought God had not only abandoned them but hated them and was punishing them for something. While it is true that God sometimes allows bad things to happen to us as a way of encouraging us to change our behavior, we must be careful and not attribute the evil of mankind to God. It was not God who orchestrated the evils of World War II and all other wars, it was evil men such as Hitler. Even when an evil person claims that their actions are inspired of God we can judge by the Bible and clearly see that they are not.
In the world today, nearly every religion teaches that our eternal worth is based largely, and sometimes solely, on the quality and quantity of good works we accomplish in this life. True Christianity stands alone in teaching that we are saved, not because of what we do, but in spite of it. Christianity is the only faith in the world where it is taught that God paid the entire price for our sins and our salvation. Even within Christianity some people are caught up in legalism and feel that their eternal worth and salvation are based entirely or in part on how well they follow rules, but the Bible tells us that if salvation could be gained through the law than Christ died in vain, (Galatians 2:21).
In Eastern religions, such as Buddhism, it is taught that our works determine our place in our next life and in the afterlife, and if a person is born with some sort of illness or defect it is believed that he or she did something horrible in their last life. There are also some religions that claim to be Christian but are not, such as Mormonism (officially known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), that teach we are saved by grace but we have to purchase that grace with our works, though that belief only makes sense when the definition of grace is changed from its literal meaning to mean something else entirely. The dictionary defines grace as, “the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal if blessings,” (2). In other words, if it is not given free and unmerited than it is not grace.
With teachings such as these so prevailing in the world it is easy to see why a person who is having a rough go at life would be convinced that God hates them. To make the situation worse, some people are even told that God hates them. When I was a child my father often told me that God hates me and I grew up believing that it was true. The multitudes of horrible things that happened to me, especially the things that I had absolutely no control over, reinforced that lie. Yes that is correct, if you think God hates you than you are believing a lie.
As anyone who has listened to this podcast or read my blog for any length of time knows, I was abused as a child at the hands of my father, a deeply religions man. I internalized the abuse and the lies, including the lie that God hates me. Due to my sheltered and abused upbringing, I was woefully unprepared for adulthood and, for quite some time, life as as adult was not significantly better than it was as a child. Instead of enjoying life I was merely surviving. Sometimes I wondered why I even bothered because if God truly hated me than there was no hope of being saved and I wondered why he didn’t just end me and send me to hell already.
I think I was 9 or 10
This is one of the few surviving photos of when I was a child
What made the situation, and my opinion of the situation, even worse was when I had done something wrong and knew that I had done wrong and then something bad happened to me. During those times I had no doubt that God was displeased with me, hated me, and was punishing me. When things were going extremely poorly for me I often had people say to me, “You have more bad luck than anyone I have ever known. Boy, you sure must have done something to make God mad!” If you have ever said that to anyone, even jokingly, you should call them and apologize, or better yet, see them in person and tell them that you are sorry for saying it to them. When a person already thinks they have incurred the wrath of God and that his love in not broad enough to include him or her, one of the worst things you can do is to reinforce that fallacious line of thought.
God wants all of us to come to him, and if people are taught that God does not love them and is angry with them they will not see any point in trying to please God or in trying to follow him; in their minds, God has already made up his mind about them and consigned them to hell, and that is simply not true. It doesn’t matter what you have done or what kind of life you have lived, you can change and God wants you to change and follow him, and he is eagerly waiting for you to do so, but it has to be your choice. God does not hate you, but the devil wants you to think so because it keeps you from turning your life over to God.
People are often afraid to turn to God when they have sinned because they are afraid that he will hurt them for their mistakes, like an angry and abusive father who is just waiting for any excuse to hit them, but that is not the way God is. It would be a mistake to think that God is pleased with any sinful or rebellious behavior, but even though he is displeased with our actions he still loves us. God is not like the parent who is looking for an excuse to hurt us but like the good father who will not tolerate disobedience but will still provide for his children and feed them, even when they disobey. When good parents have children who misbehave they don’t abandon them or neglect them, they provide for their needs and lovingly try to correct the wayward child’s behavior. God is a good, good father and he is the best parent of all.
I have always been a hard worker and part of the reason used to be that I was trying to compensate for the low value I placed on my self-worth. I was never able to please my father; regardless of how much I did it was never enough. I was always afraid that my employers would not like me and I would strive to work harder and do a better job than anyone I worked with, and since I was convinced that God hated me, I was always worried that I would do something else to incur his wrath. Some of the time I felt as if it were hopeless to even try because God hated me and that nothing I could ever accomplish would save me from hell. If you feel like that please believe me when I say that it is not true and that God loves you and his greatest desire for you is that you would turn your life over to him so you can live with him forever.
Grandpa & Grandma Curl
My great grandparents
My great grandfather was blind from a young age, and a few years before he died he said, “I lived nearly my entire life blind and poor, and just think, I still have to and die and go to hell yet.” I could definitely relate to that sentiment, though there was nothing wrong with my eyesight, my life was far less than stellar, and I was always in fear that once my earthly suffering was finally finished I would suffer for eternity in hell. I sometimes wished that the atheist were correct about there not being an afterlife, at least then what I suffered in this life would be it and when I died it would all be over.
When I was somewhere around seven years of age my family was acquainted with some hippy people who lived in the mountains of Colorado and we stayed with them for a while. These people, I will call them Tim and sue, they had a little girl who was my age or just slightly younger and I will call her Agnes. Tim was mostly a good father, though he was not Agnes’ biological father. Agnes’ father lived in the city and did all he could to be a good father as well, though he rarely got to see Agnes, but when he did he tried to instill Christian values in her, something that she never got with Tim and Sue.
Tim was a vegan and thought of nature as a god and worshiped it as such and would not even kill mosquitoes. Tim even went so far as to say if a bear were to attack him he would not want anyone to save him if it involved hurting the bear. Tim firmly believed there were no moral absolutes and that that anything you want to do is fine so long as you are not hurting an animal or other person but especially an animal. Tim also smoked weed, a lot of weed.
Sue pretended to believe in the same things that Tim did, but was basically living a double life. Whenever Tim was out of town Sue would eat bacon, put out mouse traps and rat poison and many other things that even the very thought would probably have sent Tim into cardiac arrest. Sue was also only putting on a show as a mother, and though she had both her ex-husband and Tim convinced that she was a good mother, I knew better; Sue was abusive and a horrible mother, and quite possible the worst mother I have ever met.
Like Tim, sue smoked a lot of weed, but she also had a bigger drug problem that he did not know about, and she supported her addiction by selling Agnes to men in exchange for money or drugs, often multiple times per day, and sometimes to dozens of men. I am certain that my mother did not know about it and Tim nor Agnes’ biological father had any idea what Sue was putting Agnes through for her own selfish wants and desires. I am not sure if my father knew or not, but if he did he would have approved of it while judging Sue for it at the same time. I knew about the horrors that Agnes was subjected to because I was her only friend and she confided in me but made me promise not to tell. Agnes said that both her mother and one of the men had told her that they would cut out her tongue, break her legs and leave her in the woods for the wolves to eat if she ever told anyone what happened to her.
From her biological father, Agnes knew a little about God and believed he existed, but because of Tim’s beliefs and because of her abuse she was convinced that God hated her and that her abuse was punishment for something. Given the circumstances, I don’t see how Agnes could have possible thought in her wildest imagination that God loved her. I felt the same way about my life as Agnes did her life, though my abuse paled in comparison to what she had to endure, so I could not argue with her assumption about how God felt about her. Though I felt deeply sorry for Agnes, there was nothing I could do to either improve her situation or elevate her guilt and self-hatred that resulted from her abuse. I didn’t even think to pray for her as I had prayed for my own deliverance for as long as I could remember, and so far as I could tell, God either didn’t hear my prayers or didn’t care. I mostly assumed the second was correct.
I lost track of Agnes and I have not seen her since I was seven or eight years old, but I pray for her every time she crosses my mind; I hope and pray that her life has improved and that she has come to a knowledge that God not only loves her but that he loves her so much that he willingly laid down his life for her and that her worth is determined by God and not by what happened to her.
For a few years of my childhood, somewhere around the age of twelve, my family was friends with a family that had identical twin girls who were close to my age, one of whom was my best friend and the other twin went out her way to be mean to me. No matter how similar they dressed or how hard they tried to fool me, I always knew one from the other. Even before being told, it was apparent to me that Nicky, the twin who was mean to me, was the favorite and that Janet was blamed for everything and was severely punished for many wrongs she had no hand in. Both girls were abused, but Janet got the short end of the stick. I knew about all sorts horrendous things that were happening to the girls, especially Janet, but I had learned years ago to keep my mouth shut when I saw someone doing something that was wrong. From my father and those with whom he associated I had learned the consequences for being a snitch, and they were severe. I had great love for Janet, but my love was not strong enough to overcome my fear of what might happen to me if I told anyone the things that were happening to the girls.
Like me and Agnes, the twins were convinced that God hated them, and everything in their life served to reinforce that idea. The last I heard about the twins was that when they were sixteen they were rescued from a cult after their parents had given them to the cult leader to be his wives. The twins were subjected to all sorts of abuse from their parents and the cult leader for several years before one of the twins managed to secretly call law enforcement. The girls and their younger brother went into foster care and I have no idea what happened to them or where they are now, but I continue to pray for them.
There is no shortage of people who have had horrendous things happen to them and many, if not all, of them are among the ranks of the multitudes who mistakenly think that God hates them. People who have suffered loss, abuse, natural disasters, poverty, war and mostly anything else that causes pain and suffering, feel as if God hates them, especially when a lot of things continually happen to them. It is especially difficult to believe that God loves you when someone you believe is close to God treats you in an unkind or unloving manner.
Our brains, with help from the devil, more easily remember the bad things that happen than the good and when things don’t go just as we want them to we often blame God. For a fairly significant portion of my early life I thought that God hated me, largely because of my abusive father. When I was a teenager I worked as often as I could to escape my home life, and even though my boss did not like me and was mean to me it was preferable to being at home. However, spending most of the day at a job where it was obvious I was not liked and then going home to an environment where I was treated even worse left me no reason to believe that God loved me.
If anyone in the history of mankind ever had a reason to think God hated them and was treating them unfairly it would be Job. The Bible tells us that Job was blameless before God, that he feared God and shunned evil, but God allowed the devil to take all he had to prove that Job’s love and faithfulness were not dependent on the wealth and other blessings he had received from God.
Job lost all of his vast wealth and all ten of his children on the same day and his first response was to fall on his face and worship God, (Job 1:21). Job did not sin by blaming God or accusing him of any wrongdoing, he just worshiped God and asked why. I wish I could say, without lying, that when bad things have happened to me over the years that my first response was to worship God, but the truth is that I had a much more self-serving and ungrateful response than Job did. God praised Job for remaining faithful even though he was being made to suffer unjustly, or as the NIV Bible puts it, “without any reason,” (Job 2:3). Later even Job’s health was taken away and his wife suggested that he just give up, curse God and die, but he refused and said, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10 NIV).
Job felt sorry for himself and lamented that he was ever born at all and asked why he could not have died at birth, but in all of his self-pity he never blamed God, though he did ask what he had done to anger God. Of course, God was not angry with Job and surely did not hate him.
Some of Job’s friends suggested that his was suffering was a result of sin and said, “For hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground,” (Job 5:6 NIV). In my mind at least, this is what the people were saying to me when they said that I must have done something to make God mad, they were suggesting that I was being punished for sin. While most sins have natural consequences, we should not jump to the conclusion that we are being punished for sin, especially if we are living a life that is in line with the teachings of the Bible. Sometimes bad things happen to us for no reason at all, and we should not assume that God does not love us because of our suffering.
After all of his suffering Job said, “My ears heard of you, but now my eyes see you,” (Job 42: 4-5 NIV). Job was saying that before he only knew of God, but through his suffering he had come to have a relationship with God. Job learned that knowledge of God alone is not sufficient and that we must have a relationship with him.
Jesus said that he came to give us life, and life more abundantly, (John 10:10). From the rest of the Bible it is clear that Jesus was not promising that we would have an easy life or that we would be rich, but he was promising us that our life would be a fulfilling life, a life worth living. Jesus gives us peace, but not the fleeting peace that the world gives, (John 14:27). The peace the world gives can’t withstand the hard times, but the peace Jesus gives us endures the hard times and makes the hard times bearable. However, it is difficult for God to bless us or to give us the peace we crave if we are not willing to trust him.
In the Faith Life Study Bible, just after the book of Job, there is a section called, WHY A GOOD GOD ALLOWS SUFFERING by Randy Alcon, and it says,
Romans 8:28 tells us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Yet it is hard to believe lines like this when we witness bafﬂing, horriﬁc events. The primary Old Testament illustration of Romans 8:28 is Genesis 50:20. In that story, Joseph’s brothers betray him and sell him into slavery. Decades later he tells them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).
With Joseph, God does more than just make the best of a bad situation; he uses it for ultimate good (compare Ephesians 1:11). Five chapters before declaring that, “God planned it for good,” Joseph said to his brothers, “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt” (Genesis 45:8). We see two wills at work here: Joseph’s brothers successfully perpetrated evil, and God successfully brought about good from their evil. God sovereignly worked so that the moral evil they committed — and the evils that resulted — were dramatically reversed to achieve his good purposes. As Joni Eareckson Tada puts it, “God permits what he hates to achieve what he loves.”
The cross is God’s answer to the question, “Why don’t you do something about evil?” God did do something — and what he did was so powerful that it ripped in half, from top down, the fabric of the universe itself. God does not merely empathize with our sufferings; he inserted himself into history through Jesus. What Jesus suffered, God suffered. God ordained and allowed Jesus’ temporary suffering so he could prevent our eternal suffering.
Good Friday isn’t called Bad Friday, because we see it in retrospect: We know that out of the appallingly bad came inexpressible good. And that good trumps the bad: Although the bad was temporary, the good is eternal. If someone had delivered Jesus from his suffering, Jesus could not have delivered us from ours (Isaiah 53:10 – 12; Romans 6:5).
Paul wrote, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29). He said, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus noted, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33).
Abel, who pleased God, was murdered by Cain. Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, nearly all the prophets and many other Biblical ﬁgures suffered (compare Hebrews 11). As followers of Christ, believers routinely suffer, but God has a way of using it for his purposes. Every character in God’s story serves a purpose, as do all characters in his story today — believers in Jesus.
Joseph, after being sold into slavery and later sent to prison on false accusations, surely had endured enough for one life. At times, he must have felt like giving up. Talk to Job in the middle of his story — ten children dead, his body covered with excruciating boils, feeling as if God abandoned him, and friends haranguing him. Job even says: “Why did I not perish at birth?” (Job 3:11). But Job also says that God “knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). And later on Job remarks, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” (Job 42:5).
If each of us were to list both the best and worst things that have ever happened to us, we are bound to see overlap in the two lists — especially if we have lived for a long time. God has used some of the worst things to accomplish some of the best. Like these lists already show, Romans 8:28 is true, and someday, we will see how it was true all along — each time suffering came along, (3).
I like to tell a story of a farmer and his son who lived on a farm near the base of a mountain. I don’t know who originally told the story and have been unable to find its source, otherwise I would love to give proper credit for the story.
An older man and his young adult son lived on a farm near a large mountain range and they only owned one horse, and they used that horse both for transportation and for farm work such as plowing, but one night while they were sleeping the horse got out of the fence and ran away. The next day the farmer discovered his horse had run away and he told his neighbor who remarked that it was a spot of bad luck.
“Good luck, bad luck, who is to tell?” Replied the farmer.
A week or so later the horse returned with an entire herd of wild horses following him and led them all into the fence and the farmer was able to close the gate and trap the entire herd. The next day the farmer told his neighbor about the incident and the neighbor said, “Well, that is good luck.”
“Good luck, bad luck,” the farmer said, “Who is to tell?”
A while later the farmer’s son was trying to train one of the new horses and got bucked off breaking his leg in the process. The next day the farmer told his neighbor about his son’s accident and the neighbor said,”Oh, that is bad luck!”
“Good luck, bad luck, who is to tell?” Replied the farmer.
Shortly after the son had broken his leg the army came though taking every able bodied young man to fight in the war, but as the young man had a broken leg they could not use him and did not take him. The following day the farmer told his neighbor about the incident with the Army and the neighbor said, “Oh, that is good luck!”
“Good luck, bad luck, who is to tell?” Replied the farmer.
The reason I like that story is in retrospect a lot of the things I had originally thought were good turned out to be bad, and some of the bad things that happened to me turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me. God knows what he is doing, we just have to trust him. God loves you and wants to do good in your life, and he will if you will let him.