Does God Hate Me?
Aug, 17, 2018 · Robin Basselin
“Does God hate me?” It’s a soul wrenching question and if you’re asking this question today, you’re probably struggling with overwhelming emotions of grief, pain, guilt, shame, woundedness, or anger. Maybe you’re dealing with a life-changing injury, chronic illness, repeated job loss, the death of a loved one, a wrongful conviction, or a deep sense of unworthiness, depression, or self-hate.
Whatever your situation, it is important to know that you are not alone in your pain or your questioning. Countless people, over generations, have suffered unimaginable tragedy, questioned God’s love for them, and wondered where God was in the midst of so much pain and trouble. You can also be assured that it is okay to be honest with God and express to him your feelings of anger and pain. In fact, in your crying out, you are in very good company. Many biblical notables like Job, David in the Psalms, and even Naomi, the mother-in-law of Ruth, suffered deeply and openly expressed their anger, sorrow, and questions to God.
Naomi and God
At the beginning of the book of Ruth, we find Naomi in a dire situation. She is a refugee in a foreign land, called Moab. Years earlier, she had come to Moab with her husband and two sons seeking relief during a time of famine in their homeland of Judah. In Moab, Naomi may have found food, but she also encountered much suffering and loss. First, her husband died, and then, her two adult sons died; which in her ancient context, rendered her socially powerless, with no source of income or protection.
Alone, vulnerable, and in a land that was not her home, Naomi felt abandoned by God. As she urged her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, to leave her and return to their own families, she exclaimed “the Lord’s hand has turned against me!” (Ruth 1:13). Ruth was not put off by Naomi’s cries, and decided to remain with her mother-in-law. Even after they returned to Bethlehem, Naomi insisted that the people call her Mara (bitterness) “because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the the Lord has brought me back empty. The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me” (Ruth 1:20-21).
Naomi felt empty, hated, and abandoned by God. She languished in grief, she cried out in anger, and she could see no reason for any of it.
God and You
Is that where you are today? If so, I have an important truth for you to hear and embrace: God does not hate you. Like each one of his children, God created you in his own image, he knit you together in your mother’s womb, and he loves you more deeply than we can understand. I know this may not feel true in your current situation. It definitely didn’t feel true in Naomi’s life. But what Naomi’s story, and the stories of Job, David, and countless others in the Bible show us is that God knows our circumstances, our sin, our anger, and our fear, and is with us in our suffering, even (and maybe especially) in those times when we feel utterly abandoned by God.
God did not hate Naomi. Nor did her questioning, anger, and pain turn him away. As the Creator of all things—the same God who would later come to earth in human flesh, to suffer a brutal and painful death on humanity’s behalf—no one understood Naomi's anguish, fear, and feelings of abandonment better. This was true for Naomi and is still true for us in our sufferings today.
From Emptiness to Fullness
While the story of Ruth does not answer the question of why God allowed Naomi to suffer, it does give reason for hope. Just as God provided redemption for Ruth and Naomi, through Boaz, so he would later extend redemption to all people through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Today, we still suffer. And like Naomi, we may doubt God’s love for us. But knowing that God made a way for Naomi all those centuries ago, can still be a source of hope for us today. God walked with Naomi in her emptiness, and in time, brought flourishing out of her bitterness. The story of Naomi’s redemption is not a quick or flashy one. Instead, it is a story of God using the faithfulness and actions of ordinary people like Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz, to bring about his will.
In the end, Naomi found security, and received the blessings of a life filled with the love of Ruth, Boaz, and eventually her grandson Obed, who would be the grandfather of King David. In fact, after the birth of Obed, Naomi’s friends cried out to Naomi:
“Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth” (Ruth 4:14-15).
We may not know why God allows bad things to happen to good people, but the good news, as witnessed in the Bible, is that God is with us in our suffering. May you know today that even in your suffering God is actively working to bring fullness out of your emptiness, just like he did for Naomi. If you’d like to learn more about God’s presence and provision in the lives of Naomi, Boaz, and Ruth, download Groundwork’s 4-part study “Ruth: Surprised by God’s Providence.”