Anyone who tells you that they have never felt like God was ever mad at them is a liar. That might sound a little strong, but in reality, almost everyone has felt like God has abandoned them or is punishing them at one time or another. Even though in our heads we know that Jesus died for our sins and has forgiven us, it is a little harder to convince our hearts. Even Joyce Meyer admits to falling prey to this myth.
“Through my own experience in my relationship with God, and through ministering to other people, I have come to believe that a large percentage of people, either vaguely or perhaps even clearly, believe that God is mad at them,” says Meyer in the introduction of her new book, God is Not Mad at You: You Can Experience Real Love, Acceptance & Guilt-Free Living. “This belief prevents us from receiving His love, mercy, grace and forgiveness. It leaves us fearful, lacking confidence and feeling guilty. Even though we may ask for God’s forgiveness for our sins and failures, we often still feel that God is disappointed and angry because we are less than He wants and expects us to be.”
For most people, it isn’t the idea that God could be mad at us humans that bothers them. When we do wrong, it seems totally reasonable for our heavenly father to be upset or at least disappointed in us. What seems to be the biggest worry is when it appears that God has turned that disappointment or anger and used it against us. Many feel that God is so disappointed in them that He simply turned is His back toward us and chooses not to hear when we cry out for help. And that is where the myth comes in.
A few things that we know for sure:
God Loves US
One of the first verses any of us ever memorize, and for some the only verse, is John 3:16. The makes clear that God doesn’t love just a few, but everyone in the entire world:
… that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him. —John 3:15-17
God Expects Us to Forgive Like He Does
Humans are imperfect creatures and yet God expects us to extend forgiveness to others over and over again:
Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I don’t tell you until seven times, but, until seventy times seven. —Matthew 18:21-22
We Do Not Need to Fear God
If God expects us to forgive others 490 times (70 x 7) for the same sin, how much more will he forgive us? And if he is always ready to forgive us, due to the crucifixion of Jesus, than what do we have to fear?
For you didn’t receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him. —Romans 8:15-17
Still, life gets hard and difficult at times. It may feel like everything is going wrong. We may want to blame someone for all the pain. The death of a loved one, a job loss, a tragic event – these are the stuff of life. Those all happen due to the fact that we live in an imperfect world, not because God hates us or had decided to attack us.
God does “allow” bad things to happen around us, but He doesn’t “cause” the bad things to happen in the first place. Some feel that if their lives aren’t rosy at all times, it must mean that God has it in for them. The truth is just the opposite. God is ready and willing to help us through the storms of life if we just seek Him.
There is an old saying, though not Biblical, that bears repeating: “If you feel distant from God, you can be sure that He isn’t the one who moved.” The next time you feel that God is upset with you, take a few steps back, take a deep breath and repeats the things you know to be true about God’s character. Then ask for His help to get you through the difficult time.