Does God Really Love Me?

Most Christians need to get this right:

This piece may not be to everyone’s liking, as it combines some autobiographical elements with biblical and devotional elements. If those three areas do not appeal to you, you better look away now! But most honest Christians at least might be able to relate. And the overriding theme is this: ‘I know that God loves me, but it is still so hard for me to comprehend and apprehend it.’

On the social media recently I wrote about such matters, and mentioned I am still working on this. Many wrote in saying ‘you are not alone in this.’ Many believers struggle to fully experience and embrace the love that Father God has for us. So this piece will look at some further aspects of this.

Maybe I can start with this rather personal bit, and move on from that. Many years ago while in a missionary training school in Europe, a visiting speaker from New Zealand came and taught us for a week. Some of you older believers might remember him: Ken Wright.

Anyway, he encouraged students to come to meet him privately if they wanted to talk or have some ministry. So I came to see him once and had a brief chat. He said he felt he had a word from the Lord for me. It was something to the effect of: ‘You are a man for love’ or something like that.

I went away thinking that was odd. And I have ever since. I never have seen myself as being very loving. I have always thought I am far too focused on myself, and really do not love others, or God, or even family members as I should. So to be told that was always rather puzzling to me.

Now does God want me to be a loving person? He sure does. But I have never felt I have made much progress in this regard. But perhaps I am slowly and slightly moving in the right direction. If nothing else, I seem to be writing about these matters much more of late.

In recent times I have written two similar sorts of articles, both dealing with the human need for love and acceptance, but especially the ultimate love and acceptance we can have in God. On March 15 I posted this article:

It dealt with the human yearning and longing for love from others. In it I featured a famous 2001 Sci Fi film to help get my point across. And on April 17 I wrote this article:

In that newer piece I again featured a film, this time a popular 2019 movie. As I said in that second article, an identical line was uttered in each movie:

Two films – and there would likely be many others – have the amazing words uttered, “I have always loved you.” In one, a mother spoke these words to a young boy, and in the other, a father spoke them to an adult son. They both needed so very much to hear and receive those words.

I shared this stuff online and said that we should pray and ask God to let his eternal love fully and forcefully sink into our thick skulls and hardened hearts. I know I need this desperately. And many of you do too. This was borne out in another posting.

With a link to that more recent article I also said in a social media post: “I am the slowest learner on the planet: I am 71 years old, I have been a Christian for 53 years, and I still do not really get the reality of God’s love for me. Yes, my head gets it, but my heart still struggles to really comprehend and receive it.” Many said to me that they were in the same boat.

One fellow replied in a comment saying “This book was good on the subject…” It had a link to amazon, but I could only see the title of the book, The Singing God. So I clicked on the link and was pleased with what I saw. I wrote this in a comment to him:

“Thanks Tony. I was going to say, ‘Just what I need – another book – more head knowledge!’ But then I clicked on your link and saw the author. I actually already have 15 books by Sam Storms. So I quite like him. But I do not have this one. So I just ordered it! Thanks again.”

Image of The Singing God: Feel the Passion God Has for You...Just the Way You Are
The Singing God: Feel the Passion God Has for You...Just the Way You Are by Storms, Sam (Author) Amazon logo

So now that I have the volume, I can certainly say my friend Tony was correct. It is indeed a very helpful book. It is an easy-to-read and non-academic volume, but plenty of heavyweights are mentioned throughout, eg., Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, J. I. Packer, D. A. Carson, John Piper and Joni Eareckson Tada.

So let me present a very brief overview of it and offer a few quotes from it. The book’s title is taken from a text some of us might have raced through and not looked at as closely as we ought to have: Zephaniah 3:17. It says this:

The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

While we all know that God loves us, how many of us know that so great is his love and devotion to us, that our very presence causes him to break out in song?! Sure, this text is referring to the people of God, Israel. But all God’s people would be included in this wonderful action of God.

Letting that truth really sink in is the point of this book. Says Storms:

What makes life livable is enjoying the joy that comes from knowing one is enjoyed by God. This in no way minimizes our responsibility to love God. The greatest commandment in the Law is that we love the Lord with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind (Matt. 22:37). Not loving God is, therefore, the worst of all human sins. What I have in mind, though, is His love for us, His deep, emotional, loving movement toward people he created in his image. So let’s not reverse what the Bible sets in order: “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 John 4:10, NKJV). Our love for God is a reflex of His love for us. He loved us first! We must be careful not to invert the sequence.


I’ve been a Christian for 51 years. I’ve been a pastor for 38 years. I guess that makes me “old” and somewhat experienced. In any case, I’ve seen more than I care to remember of human pain and predicaments. I’ve counseled rebellious teens and lonely senior citizens. I’ve spent hours with bitter wives and their passive husbands. I’ve cried with victims of sexual abuse and rejoiced with those set free from bondage. Their problems may be different. Some are men, others are women. Some are old, others young. But the one thing they share in common is the deeply felt need of the human soul to know and feel that God loves and enjoys them.


The one thing that gives us hope, the one thing that conquers despair and brings strength for the struggle is the assurance that no matter how bad the problem may be, God loves us. Pain becomes bearable and tomorrow no longer terrifies when your soul is touched with the reality of God’s delight in you. That is why I have written this book.

Since he speaks of wanting us to FEEL the love of God as well as know about it, he has a chapter on emotions and how they must be rightly understood and made use of. He quotes from Martyn Lloyd-Jones and his book on preaching (which I actually just quoted from a few days ago as well). Lloyd-Jones ruled out an emotionless encounter and walk with God:

What can one say about such an attitude? I content myself by asking a few questions. Can a man see himself as a damned sinner without emotion? Can a man look into hell without emotion? Can a man listen to the thunderings of the Law and feel nothing? Or conversely, can a man really contemplate the love of God in Christ Jesus and feel no emotion? The whole position is utterly ridiculous. I fear that many people today in their reaction against excesses and emotionalism put themselves into a position in which, in the end, they are virtually denying the Truth. The Gospel of Jesus Christ takes up the whole man, and if what purports to be the Gospel does not do so it is not the Gospel. The Gospel is meant to do that, and it does that. The whole man is involved because the Gospel leads to regeneration; and so I say that this element of pathos and emotion, this element of being moved, should always be very prominent in preaching.

But still, some folks might object, saying that emotions are unreliable and cannot be trusted. Well, that is true, but it is emotionalism that the believer must guard against, not the emotions that God has created us with. Says Storms:

But why can’t God be trusted with our emotions as much as with our minds? It seems as if evangelicals believe in God’s sovereign control over everything except its effect on their feelings. What I’m contending for is that God can be trusted to direct and oversee our experience of His power as well as our affirmation of it, Jack Hayford, the founder and chancellor of The King’s College and Seminary in Los Angeles, California, has some helpful words of wisdom for us concerning this matter:


“It began to dawn on me that, given an environment where the Word of God was foundational and the Person of Christ the focus, the Holy Spirit could be trusted to do both—enlighten the intelligence and ignite the emotions. I soon discovered that to allow him that much space necessitates more a surrender of my senseless fears than a surrender of sensible control. God is not asking any of us to abandon reason or succumb to some euphoric feeling. He is, however, calling us to trust him—enough to give him control”

He goes on to remind us that “emotions are not an infallible guide for establishing what is true and false,” nor are they alone “decisive in determining doctrinal verities.” And he discusses this further, taking a look at what Jonathan Edwards said about “religious affections.”

But that is from just one chapter of Storms’ book on one aspect of this matter. Much more can be said about this volume, but let me finish with its closing paragraphs where he offers more on the thoughts of Jonathan Edwards and his populariser, John Piper:

God is glorified by your enjoyment of Him. Or, as John Piper so often puts it, God is most glorified in you when you are most glorified in Him.


Thus for God to seek His own glory and for God to seek your good are not separate or antithetical endeavours. That is because God is most glorified in us (there’s His glory) when we are most satisfied in Him (there’s our good). Therefore, if God were not committed first to His own glory, He would not be at all committed to our good.


Our highest good is in the enjoyment of God. God’s highest good is in being enjoyed. Thus, for God to work for your enjoyment of him (that’s His love for you) and for His glory in being enjoyed (that’s His love for Himself) are not properly separable. Glory to God!

We all need to pray to grasp these truths more fully. And we want to do more than just think about them more fully. We need to experience them more fully as well. I know I do.

[2016 words]

9 Replies to “Does God Really Love Me?”

  1. Thank you, Bill, for your inspiring post above.

    May I reassure you that you are not alone in feeling inadequate before God.

    I too wonder how on earth God could possibly love someone as flawed as I am.

    Recently, the preacher at my church quoted a wonderful piece of wisdom from the late American Presbyterian minister and author, Timothy Keller (1950–2023).

    Keller wrote: “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”

    [Source: Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God (New York: Penguin Publishing Group USA, 2013)].

    This great, under-appreciated truth about the extent of God’s grace and love should console struggling Christians everywhere.

  2. This is not an attempt to match this great article, but it is the devotional I wrote for this week, and it seems to dove tail with your thoughts.

    The Fourth Sunday of Easter
    John 21:15-22

    How time flies!
    We are already half way into the Easter Season of our Christian spiritual observances. In the secular sense we have already completed the first quarter of the year.

    While one is different from the other, one does not function without the other. Just as railroad tracks are distinct, one from the other, they are kept parallel and true by the ties that bind them in parallel. Our spiritual life and secular life are bound together by the ties of the truths of Scripture.

    The fifty days between the resurrection and the ascension were used by Jesus to further establish faith and assurance in Him. Now, twenty-one centuries later, we have been afforded an outline, in the seasonal observances of our faith, to establish and assure ourselves of the certainty of the hope we have in our risen and ascended Lord.

    At this midpoint of the Easter Season, we turn from the historical events certifying the resurrection to those things we teach in connection with the Keys of the Kingdom, which are now ours to hold and administer.

    The Scripture chosen and assigned for this Fourth Sunday of Easter is selected from the Tenth Chapter of John, often titled “The Good Shepherd:, and returns to Jesus’ teaching about Himself before His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We transition from a focus on Jesus’ assurance to the disciples in those eventful days after the resurrection to focusing on our work as twenty-first century disciples – whether missionary, pastor, deacon or layman.

    This week I am going make an exception to my commitment to stick to the outline and move the readings for today to next week.

    Today I want to consider John 21:13-22, the restoration of Peter. I admit that I am making the change because this is one of my favorite passages, a favorite event, that I want to cover.

    John 21:15-22
    15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
    20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”

    Jesus had actually restored Peter before, in the upper room when he was with all the other disciples. Jesus did not send him away or chastise him. He didn’t call him out. He included him as though he had never denied his savior. But that did not assuage Peter’s guilt entirely. He was deeply aware that he did not deserve to be included. He did, indeed, deserve to be pushed aside – outside.

    Yet here, beside the sea, after having been served breakfast along with the others, Jesus began walking with him along the shore.
    Jesus said “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
    Peter responded “Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you.”
    There are eight words in Greek expressing love, but here I will consider two.

    When Jesus asked Peter if he loves Him, John used the word ????? (agape pronounced a ga pay). Peter responded with the word ???? (phi lo).

    Agape is unconditional, sacrificial love. It is the love one has for others even to the extent that one would give his life for them.

    Philo (root – phi le o) is the love of affection, friendship. While it may be warm and close, there is not the level of complete commitment. It is brotherly love.

    Jesus asked again. “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” (agape)
    (Peter) said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” (Philo)
    Jesus; “Feed my lambs.”

    Jesus asked a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” (Philo)
    Peter answered, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” (Philo)
    Jesus: “Feed my sheep”

    The very question of Peter’s undying, all sacrificing love he could not answer. The pain of his denial was still raw. The pain accompanying this kind of failure to a loved one is hard to erase. In Peter’s mind he had forfeited the right to claim or profess this kind of love. The best he could claim was affection.

    Again Jesus asked about self-sacrificing love.
    Again Peter could not claim or profess it.

    The third time Jesus asked if he had affection for him. (Philo)
    Even with the softer expression in the question, Peter felt he had no right to profess even affection. He had been so exceedingly weak.

    But Peter did love Jesus. He could not deny it, even though he could not express it. Never again would he deny it. He looked at Jesus and the depth of his faith flowed to the surface. “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” (Philo)

    “Jesus, you know everything. You are God. You know my heart.”
    Jesus: “Feed my sheep.”

    Indeed, Jesus did know his heart. He saw that Peter’s heart was full to the brim with agape! Peter would dedicate his life to spreading that agape everywhere, to everyone. He would feed God’s lambs and sheep. He never denied Him again, even when he was carried away and crucified. Jesus, in His omniscience knew all of this, and told Peter what was ahead for him. When John wrote it, Peter had already been dead for thirty-five years, crucified. And John heard that prediction himself, because he was close by.

    Does that mean that Peter never fell short again?
    He did.
    At one point Paul had to straighten him out.

    No one is ever free of thinking, saying or doing sinful things. Ever. Satan is always trying to distract us, to give us what isn’t his to give, whether it is through lust, greed, covetousness or anything else.
    The more assured and dedicated the saint, the harder Satan hits him.
    But the Holy Spirit is always there to call us to the straight path, to lead us to repentance, to assure us.
    And Jesus is always there to forgive and restore.
    * * * *

    Just shy of sixty years ago there was a young man who was quite certain of his faith. In many ways, he was quite proud of himself for it.

    One evening he was with several of his co-workers, and a rather animated conversation about right and wrong rose among them. Some were saying that doing wrong to preserve one’s life could be right. He spoke up with an opposing argument.

    One of the fellows turned on him and, pointing an accusing finger, snarled scornfully, “I suppose you are one of those damned Christians!”

    That young man was speechless. He could say nothing. He was silent. Instantly he was looking into a mirror that reflected his latent self-righteousness, his weakness and lack of love. He could not stand and say, “I certainly am!”

    That young man was me. I was 21 years old. That moment still stings.

    Several years later I attended a worship service that included the Confession of Sins. I said out loud with the rest of the congregation, “Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, we poor sinners confess unto you that we are, by nature, sinful and unclean, and that we have sinned against You by THOUGHT, WORD, AND DEED. . . “

    That was me. Completely.
    In Thought.
    In Word.
    In Deed.

    Then came the absolution:
    Almighty God, our heavenly Father, has had mercy upon us, and has given His only Son to die for us, and for His sake forgives us all our sins. To them that believe on His Name, He gives power to become the sons of God, and bestows upon them His Holy spirit. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved. Grant this, O Lord, unto us all.

    In that moment I knew, with a certainty I had never known, that my sins, all sinful thoughts, words and deeds, including that weakness so many years before, had been forgiven. I believe, and I am in the family of God. I am His adopted son. That confession and absolution restore me daily.

    I understand Peter. I understand Peter and the Lord’s love for him.
    So I know that the Lord loves me and will keep me for all eternity.
    Because of that love, I can love enough to stand strong.
    I can stand strong enough to minister to others when called to do so.

    * * *
    Who of us has not, at some time, failed to strongly state our faith in Jesus? Our present, physical world is tied to our eternal, spiritual world by the tie of the Word. Just as Peter was restored, we can be restored. Just as I was restored, you can be restored. We can join a long list of the restored. Being restored we can carry on sharing the Word, lovingly alerting of danger, lovingly assuring, lovingly giving even our very life.

    And once more, it brings us back to the cross, the grave and the resurrection.
    Because He lives, we live
    Because He lives we serve.
    Because He lives we have His limitless love to share.
    Because He lives.

    Jesus has risen!
    He has risen indeed!

  3. Tell me about it, Bill.

    As someone who not only lost his wife and love to cancer but who also lost his only son and heir as well and who now lives alone without anyone to pass my name to ( I do have a lovely daughter and four beautiful grandchildren), I have not only suffered stupendous loss but also humiliation and ongoing hurt. I have said to God “You may love me but no one could ever tell” but this is actually pertinent. When God’s people suffer so does God’s Name. If God is willing to allow His Name to suffer until the end, as is prophesied, there has got to be a very good reason for this to be so.

    You may or may not know it but you hit the nail on the the head on how to experience God’s love under adverse circumstances and that is simply to be still and know that He is God.

  4. What can I say Bill? Is that I know He loves me mainly like you He brought me out of the Kingdom of darkness into His glorious light. That’s what I’m left with in my darkest moments.So thankful. God bless you heaps brother and thanks so much for pressing on in this difficult time of your life.

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