In Part 1 I tried to answer this question: What happens when I can’t feel God’s love? I said it’s a common problem, and if it happens to you, you’re not alone. The incredible thing about God is the extent of his love for us. I can never say this enough.
The story in the Bible of the Prodigal Son (a parable in Luke 15) is a wonderful illustration of the extravagance of his love. You might know the story: a younger son who left home and wasted his inheritance in wild living. But his father still loved him and every day looked to see if he was coming home. And then one day it happened.
He saw his prodigal son in the distance. But he did not wait. He ran out to greet him—huffing, puffing, sweating. He ran as fast as he could, not caring that others looked on in disgust. He was after all a man of distinction making a fool of himself. That didn’t matter. He embraced his son and kissed him again and again. He gave him gifts—a robe to cover his tattered clothes so he could lift his head high; sandals to welcome him home as a son, not a slave; a signet ring, and a great party to honour him back into the community.
The lesson here is that God is our Heavenly Father who takes the initiative to show his love. He is generous, overwhelming us with his love and gifts of grace we didn’t earn.
Don’t Give In to Negative Self-talk
So, with all that, can you still not feel God’s love as a personal Heavenly Father? Maybe it’s too good to be true—and maybe your earthly father didn’t take steps to get to know you or show you his love. There may not have been many hugs or gestures of love. And it’s hard to trust in the love of God who you haven’t seen or touched.
I think you need to believe that you can be loved. Your problem with God may well be a self-esteem issue. Some people feel bad about themselves because of something they did. Others because of something that was done to them. Either way, don’t let yourself feel bad about yourself. Receive forgiveness for your failings, and give forgiveness to those who have hurt you. Don’t give in to shame, embarrassment or negative self-talk. If you feel like hiding, you’ll tend to shut out God more, and others who care about you—you are a worthwhile person and your emotional needs are important.
Are You Feeling Angry?
I said in Part 1 that some people are angry with God. But there’s more to it. If you don’t feel close to God, it may mean you should let go of anger altogether. Angry people are lonely people. You may have valid reasons to be angry, but don’t stay that way. Anger and negativity push others away, even those who care about us. You can’t stay angry at someone and feel their love for you at the same time.
Job in the the Old Testament was angry with God for the disaster that happened to him and his family. He knew he didn’t deserve all this pain. He was angry at his friends for criticising him, and he told them so. And because Job talked through his feelings and let go of his anger, he didn’t become bitter—he became better. In the end he found God’s comfort and love. Maybe you need to talk with God about your anger, let go and trust him.
It’s about expressing how you feel. Maybe you’re a person of action and reason, and feelings just get in the way. Or as I said in Part 1 you’ve shut down emotionally because of disappointments you’ve had. If so, don’t be surprised if you can’t feel God’s love and presence. Find friends who are interested in you. When someone asks, How are you feeling?, tell them honestly.
Take time to be still with God—sit and meditate. It allows you to bring your focus back to him. Clear your mind and focus on what’s important.