While I broke with fundamentalist religion somewhere around , I still struggle. As any therapist will tell you, old mental habits take a long time to break. My inner concept of God still sees him as an all-powerful being that is infinite at everything- including being pissed off. Even looking at the cross under old paradigms of thinking, I still see a Jesus who is dying to protect me from his angry dad- letting dad beat him mercilessly so that I can run out of the room to safety. I remember when we first realized we were losing our daughter— the situation quickly disintegrated, and we knew that loss was probably inevitable. Did I have a lustful thought that caused God to decide to punish me with the loss of a child? I lay awake at am frequently wrestling with this, because I feel like a horrible hypocrite. When it comes to the God who hates me, I want to be an atheist. As a result, our concept of God internalizes into all sorts of other broken thinking, and leads us to see everything bad that happens in life as being a divine punishment from God.
I am a trustee of a British Christian magazine. We are not a church, nor a counseling agency, but often people do write to us for help. The managing editor sent one such letter to me recently, and asked me to pray about it. Let me quote a few excerpts. Last week I was told I have cancer again, the second time in 20 years…. Last year I was told I was a diabetic. Many bad thoughts are running through my mind….
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The short answer is that God does not hate you. He loves you deeply. He hates what sin has done to you. God created a perfect world that sin corrupted and destroyed. The great news of the gospel is that we can be free of sin! When we consider just how sinful we are before God, it can lead to a painful sense of just how horrible and sinful we really can be. Sin can lead to deeply painful emotions. We have all experienced instances when we do something that we know to be sinful, instances when we consciously made the choice to sin, and it makes us wonder if God is mad at us. We wonder if he is somewhere out there punishing us for our bad behavior and rewarding us for our good behavior. God hates sin because it is destructive.
In fact, one of the people in this world who was supposed to be closest to God, His actual Son, asked a similar question when He was hanging from a tree, dying. Take Paul for example. Paul, who was once known as Saul, actually killed Christians back in his day. He must have really thought God hated him. So even world-famous Paul felt like God had turned His back. Jesus asked it. Paul asked it. Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? God really does hate me. Remember Paul, who talked about how terrible life had become for him?