Despair and hopelessness can lead us to wonder, Why doesn’t God love me? Why does He hate me? What does the Bible say to those who ask such questions? What does God really hate? What does He want us to know about His deep, eternal love?
Some of the questions sent to our “Ask a Question” team are heartrending. Some ask, “Does God hate me?” Others despair, “God hates me! Why?”
A recent message reflected the struggles and hopelessness so many feel:
“I’m facing too many problems in my profession. I have to face various struggles day to day. I’m very afraid about my job. I’m often praying [but God] is not at all listening to me. What can I do? Who else in this world will help me other than Jesus? I’m very helpless and also lost all my hope. Why [is] Jesus not helping me? Did I [do] anything wrong?”
Doesn’t God care? Do the flood of challenges and heartaches so many face show His lack of love? Or indifference? Or even hate?
God proves His love
John 3:16-17 is quoted so often, it may have lost its impact. But imagine yourself in the place of God the Father or Jesus Christ.
Imagine being willing to give the ultimate sacrifice for a world of people You had created but who had become selfish and sinful. Imagine the thoughts and plans, the hopes and dreams, the care and concern involved in delivering people from the death penalty and offering them an eternal family relationship with their Creator!
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
More about this in a moment. First, it’s important to understand more about how the universe really works behind the scenes. Why are things not always as they appear? When we feel hated, who is it really who hates us?
The real enemy
The Bible tells us Satan is a cruel and wrathful enemy (1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 12:12). He hates God and hates humanity. He seeks in every way he can to thwart God’s loving plan and to cause humans to give up hope.
The book of Job gives us a glimpse behind the curtain. We see Satan’s vicious attacks on Job for what they are—hateful, desperate attempts to discourage Job and get him to give up.
But Job did not understand what was really happening. He assumed the suffering was from God.
In his grief Job cried out to God, “Why do You hide Your face, and regard me as Your enemy?” (Job 13:24). To his three friends, who understood even less than Job did, he said, “He tears me in His wrath, and hates me” (Job 16:9).
The story of Job is not an easy one. God did allow Job’s terrible trial. But it was definitely not because He hated him. God’s love for Job—and for all of us—exceeds our ability to comprehend.
Job’s miserable comforters insisted that Job’s suffering was a sign of God’s displeasure with Job, but God said they were wrong in what they said about Him (Job 42:7). They were judging on appearances.
It is easy for us to base our feelings of being loved or hated on our physical circumstances. We naturally believe that if we are loved, we will live a blessed and easy life. If life is hard and painful, God must hate us.
But circumstances and suffering do not give the whole picture. So many of the faithful, beloved people of God suffered terrible trials, and Paul tells Christians, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
Trials do not automatically mean God hates us or is punishing us. But that is not to say we don’t bring bad consequences on ourselves many times. It is wise to examine what we have done and to repent of any wrong, to rectify what we can and to work to avoid making the same mistakes.
Breaking God’s law—sinning—does cause terrible suffering and ultimately eternal death.
What does God really hate?
God does not hate you!
But the Bible does list some things God hates:
- Sin and lawlessness (Psalm 45:6-7).
- Pride, deception, violence, wickedness and discord (Proverbs 6:16-19).
- Pagan worship and child sacrifice (Deuteronomy 12:31).
- Divorce (Malachi 2:16).
All these produce evil and suffering for those involved and those around them. God hates evil thoughts and acts and the destruction they cause.
He hates sin, but loves sinners. He loves them enough to deeply desire that they—that all of us—stop sinning.He hates sin, but loves sinners. He loves them enough to deeply desire that they—that all of us—stop sinning.
What about those few places where the Bible says God hates “the wicked” (Psalm 11:5) or a specific profane person like Esau? (See the sidebar “‘Esau I Have Hated’: What Did God Mean?”) These passages do not mean God’s hate and His love are mutually exclusive. Actually God loves even those He “hates.” He deeply desires for the wicked to change.
Even when we make ourselves hateful and when He hates what we do, His love for us remains steadfast.
God’s love and our response
The apostle Paul marveled at God’s great love:
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8, emphasis added).
God hates sin because of its terrible consequences. He doesn’t like to see us hurt ourselves. As Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11).
God’s love for us requires—deserves—a response. As the apostle John wrote, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! … And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:1, 3).
Experiencing God’s pure love should motivate us to become like Him—to purify ourselves and to love as He loves.
“We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). How do we show that love? “Beloved, if God so loves us, we also ought to love one another” (verse 11). “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2-3).
God’s 10 Commandments show us how to love God the way He wants to be loved, and to love other people in the way that promotes peace and godly relationships.
We respond to God’s love by repenting—changing our way of life—and living God’s beautiful, beneficial way instead. You can study more about this in two of our most practical and essential biblical resources: Change Your Life! and God’s 10 Commandments: Still Relevant Today.
When we accept God’s love and respond to His call through repentance and the conversion process, we no longer need worry that God hates us. Then “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
God’s love is the strongest force in the universe. As Paul encouraged the Christians in Rome:
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Sidebar: Why Doesn’t God Answer Me?
The Bible has a lot to say about how and when God answers prayers. He can answer in different ways that we sometimes don’t recognize:
- Yes, but not yet.
- No, but I have something better in store for you.
See much more on this in our online article “Five Keys to Answered Prayers.”
Sidebar: “Esau I Have Hated”: What Did God Mean?
God said, “Jacob I have loved; but Esau I have hated” (Romans 9:13). This is quoted from Malachi 1:2-3, and it is merely an expression meaning that God showed favor to Jacob instead of Esau who, as the firstborn brother, would normally have received the inheritance and birthright promises. The point in both sections is more on the subject of selection and rejection of descendants at that time, rather than His love for individuals.
So the promises God gave to Abraham’s descendants were extended through the line of Jacob, instead of Esau, who “despised his birthright” (Genesis 25:34). You can read more about Esau’s choices in our Daily Bible Verse Blog post “Esau Sells His Birthright.”
What about the word hate? Jamieson, Fausset and Brown’s Commentary explains that God hated Esau relatively speaking, “that is, [God] did not choose him out to be the object of gratuitous favor, as [God] did Jacob.” God chose Jacob and his descendants to be His people and the ones He would continue His blessings through, rather than Esau.