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What if God Couldn't Feel?

What if the Bible told the story of a God who was all-knowing and all-powerful–but who could feel nothing? In a relationship with such a God, I’m thinking a conversation might go something like this:

“Hello, God… It’s me again… I need to talk to you about some things that have been on my mind.

The more I think about you, the more I realize that there is no limit to your understanding. When I look at the wonder of all that you have created, I sense that for all eternity we will only be exploring the outer edge of your immeasurable knowledge and wisdom.

Yet sometimes while thinking about the fact that your thoughts are so much higher than my thoughts, I find myself wondering whether you are moved by the waves of sadness, and fear that we feel as your created beings? While trying to understand you, I wish I knew whether you really care about the kinds of emotions that so often consume us.

But why am I telling you this. My guess is that you’re going to tell me that emotions do nothing but cloud the issues of truth, reason, and a well grounded faith.

I wish I could be more objective. But for now, I feel like I’m stuck with thoughts that are so entangled with the mixed feelings I have toward you. I know you understand. I just wish I knew that you cared. Thanks for listening.

Yeh, this post, like yesterday’s, probably sounds pretty weak…

I don’t really wonder whether God lack’s the capacity for emotion. Neither could I accept a theology that emphasizes one part of God’s character to the exclusion of anything we see in the personality of Jesus. According to the New Testament, the Son is the mirror image of his Father in heaven (Col 1:15). That leads me to believe in a God who is, at the same time, so infinitely great and personal that he can relate with Christlike emotion and heart to billions of people at the same time.

But does it bother me that I can’t understand that? Not right now. I just wish that, in all of my fact-filled considerations of the Father in heaven, I would always feel and express more of what I read below– than what I’ve written above,

According to David, a man after God’s own heart,

“The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.

The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust. Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die.

The wind blows, and we are gone- as though we had never been here. But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children” Psalm 103:8-17 (NLT)

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17 Responses to “What if God Couldn't Feel?”

  1. Ted M. Gossard says:

    This reminds me of EQ (emotional quotient) and IQ. They say that one can have a high IQ yet not do well in life because their EQ is deficient.

    Made in God’s image involves more than just the mind, though I’m grateful that the mind, by faith in the truth, can help us find the righteousness, peace and joy in the Spirit found in the kingdom of God in Jesus.

    But emotions are so important, and I’m glad you address this here concering God, as you do.

  2. hal.fshr says:

    Although I can not come up with an exact quote, I remember years ago Billy Graham commenting on emotions. As I recall, he said he liked to read from the Psalms every day during his devotional time. He mentioned being surprised by “how up and down” the emotions of the Psalmist seemed to be. In another context, I talked to respected a Christian psychologist who of emotion said, “This is where we live.” Mart, your honesty about your own emotional experiences has been helpful. Because God is transcendent, our best way of approaching His emotional life seems to be by, as you said, reflecting on the emotions of Christ Jesus. He wept at the tomb of Lazarus, became frustrated with hard hearts, showed compassion to those in need and rejoiced in fellowship with His Father. I am thankful that God became a Man and dwelt among us. By observing His emotional life, we know that we are not alone in our feelings.

  3. tpl says:

    I’m grateful for the opportunity to comment openly about your topic today, without anyone who knows me listening in.

    My husband and I are in the ministry full time. He works at our church, our son attends our school, and I’m over the children’s ministry. I find it very difficult to not only express my true emotions, but to actually “feel” without looking at myself as “unspiritual.” Sometimes (like right now) my emotions are so strong that I wonder if my relationship with God is built on solid ground. I spend so much time trying to keep it together and stifle the brokenness that overwhelms me at times.

    About two years ago I went bald after having my second son. Then, about 3 weeks ago, I had a miscarrage. Our finances are in disarray, and I find it very hard to “keep it all together” with my emotions. Now, I believe God. I don’t doubt Him. It’s me that seems to be faultering. And I don’t know what to do. My husband doesn’t seem able to reach me…and its hard for me to talk to God about this. I almost feel ashamed because I am so emotional. What’s wrong with me?

  4. carloto says:

    In my walk with the Lord, He lets me taste His sweetness and gentleness partly through the emotion He blessed me (and all of us) with. But He also taught me in His Sovereignty that my emotion can become “bipolar” in a lot of ways. I cannot thank Him enough for He blessed me even more of a mind that, if completely surrendered and submissive to His mind, will keep the faith strong and victorious so that the faith which our Lord authored will be brought to completion until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ by the Author Himself – this is the divine antidote to my bipolar emotion which can be healed and transformed to become compassionate, loving, gentle and rejoicing at all times. I believe that this is part of the reason that the Psalmist can declare in Psalm 103, “Praise the Lord , O my soul… He who redeems your life from the pit and CROWNS YOU WITH LOVE AND COMPASSION…and futhermore in Psalm 34, we can shout with the psalmist, “I will extol the Lord at all times, His praise will always be on my lips.”…till the end of time, for His glory and honor, amen!

  5. Ika says:

    Hi Mart, good evening:D

    As we know that He is love. Love is His essence.If He could not feel? I might be at jeopardy.:D

    God Bless!

  6. carloto says:

    dear “tpl”,
    i know that as you were writing your comment and ponder on God Himself, i was also talking to God and looking into my own frailty. I just want you to know that although i don’t know the exact answer to a lot of our questions, i prayed for you like i’ve known you in my heart. This is the assurance of the Lord, “His steadfast love never ceases, His mercies never come to an end, Great is His faithfulness.” He knows the answer, He can fix the worst ruins in our lives, and He can bring us to complete restoration. Don’t be ashamed of what you’re going through, because you have actually inspired many women with your honesty and humility. Hundreds, maybe thousands or even millions, share the same predicament as you – we are imperfect, sinners but our perfect and compassionate God can make us whole again, unblemished before His sight. Read Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost For His Highest devotional for today.

  7. Brenda L. says:

    Dear tpl:
    When I read your blog, I was touched. I, too, have gone through times when I felt as though the bottom was being torn from beneath me and I would simply fall into a place that I would never recover. It was during those times in 2006 after the death of my dear mother that I cried out to God in the words of a song I heard: “‘Father’ me! Take me in Your arms and ‘Father’ me.” I wanted to crawl up in God’s arms and just know that He loves me and that I am His. Well, I was looking through my drawer for something and I saw a little note that had been written some years before by my dad who passed away in 2001. In his simple handwriting, the note said simply: “God is in controle” (sic). The note fell out some papers I had stuffed in the drawer, but I knew immediately it was a message to me. He was and is in control; even during the toughest times and the darkest nights. And for those of us who are His, He is always with us and has promised to deliver us safely. Take heart dear sister; I pray God will touch you in a special way today through His loving Spirit. Know that you are blessed and be a blessing!

  8. drkennyg says:

    Just a word first to help tpl above. Perhaps you are letting anxiety get the best of you. Check out the inspired words of Paul to the Philippians in Phl 4:5-7 (NASB) “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” That sounds like a God with feeling. Trust in Him and not on your own understanding. He loves us and we can rely on Him for all our needs and He will show us what to do.

  9. yvetterjh says:

    Emotions are a gift from God. I believe that He wants us to come to Him with all of our emotions- joy, pain, anger, thanksgiving and even our temporary happiness.

    When I was young in age, and in the Lord, I use to think that God the Father was a serious, stern, waiting to annihilate you kind of God. And that Jesus Christ was the compassionate, loving part of the trinity. The more I learned of God I soon realized how wrong I was. Our Father in heaven is full of compassion, love, concern for us. Just like you said Mart, and we cannot even begin to scratch the service. I think He looks at us, as we look at our children. When they come to us after being rejected by a neighborhood friend, to them it is the most catastrophic event to ever happen to them. We meet them where they are with their emotions. We understand how it felt to be rejected, and we also know that this is not a life-threatening event, and they will survive. We reassure them that this too will pass. At the same time, the simplest thing like a butterfly landing on their nose can bring about such enormous joy. God loves us in the same way. He understands that you feel this is the worst or best thing that has ever happened to you, but because of His foreknowledge He is able to compare it to greater things in life, and reassures us that this too shall pass.

    I would like to address TPL, by saying that there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling as though you cannot take another issue, emotionally or physically. God wants you and all of us to find shelter behind His feathers, and have trust under His wings (Ps 91). He tells us to cast all of our cares upon Him. Please be assured that you are heard by Him, and trusted with the challenges put before you. Our Father will not give you any more then you can bear (1 Cor 10:13). I am sure that you know that God’s words are full of inspirations, and truths. Grab hold to one, and allow the spirit to minister to you. Whenever my world is spinning, what feels to me like, out of control- only to look back and see that it wasn’t as bad as it felt, The spirit reminds me, that I am safe and this too shall pass.

    Be blessed

  10. daisymarygoldr says:

    God has created us in His own image and that explains our ability to experience similar emotions of happiness, sadness, anger and compassion that was expressed by Jesus Christ Himself. Isn’t it cool to vent our feelings through our tears and laughter? However, the bad thing to this is that our raw emotions can become vulnerable to the exploits of the enemy. Being a deceiver, he can blow things out of proportion causing us to nurse our feelings and get indulged or drowned within them. As a result, our focus shifts from serving God to ‘self’ and that will lead us to sin(Eph 4:27). Jesus experienced the same weaknesses like us but did not sin(Heb4:15). God has not left us as orphans in this world. We have His Holy spirit to comfort us as well as the fellowship of other believers to share in our joys and sorrows. Jesus did exactly that when He was sweating drops of blood…He turned from Himself and turned over to God (1Peter 5:7)!
    tpl: you are being prayed for…

  11. Mart De Haan says:

    I’m pretty overwhelmed today not only by all of your insight and comments– but by the way you are expressing for one another the heart of our God…

  12. Gale L. Jarvis says:

    Good Evening everyone, Mart, they say it is better late than never, i believe some times that is true other times not so.
    Busy, busy day, but as i have been able to stop and read the wonderful thoughts from each one throughout the day, i thank the Lord, and realize more and more God is a personal God, and deals with each one of us differently.
    I know God not only has feelings as has been discussed already, but the Holy Spirit has convinced me God has feelings far beyond what we can imagine, and the most of us do not even want to consider.
    I believe as God tells us in a breif way that He cares for the sparrow when it falls, and i believe God cares for each and every being He has created, even those most of us hate and desire to kill as they annoy us, such as the mosquitto, spiders, snakes, what ever it is that annoys most of us, God loves and cares about, and as God goes on, lets stop and think about how much more God cares about us humans, and we need to even personnalize this to me, God loves me even when i do not love some of His other creations.
    As many others have showed their love, concern, and desire to share the burden of tpl, i know words on paper can never show feelings, but words from God can confort in ways no other human being can, if ( IF ) i will not just believe, but stake my life on them, and make them come alive in my life.
    God has one thing He asks me to do in Romans 8:28, and that is to love Him, and He promises me that everything that comes into my life will work out for good, what a promise.
    tpl i do not know you, but God does, and desires the very best for you at all times, every day is a new day, and as several have mentioned before, and i agree, this too will pass, i have asked the Holy Spirit to make intersessions for you, and will continue to ask, because i do not know how to pray for you, but do not give up on God, He will never give up on you, God loves you, and as several have already showed you, we love you also.

  13. poohpity says:

    In many parts of the bible we see God’s chosen be in such sorrow and depression that they cry out to God for His help in their desperation. Only with hind sight have I been able to use the distress I have suffered to be able to comfort someone else and then thanked God that I was able to understand their pain. It is so OK to be human and have all the feelings we have and so OK not to hold them in but to talk to someone. Holding in all those feelings will make us feel like we are going to explode and most of the time at the most inappropriate time. It is so very important to be open about what we are going through because nine times out of ten some else is feeling the same way. We are not alone in our struggles and tpl I wish I was there just to hold you and let you cry. I’ll bet there is someone close that would be willing just to do that. I know God understands because in the person of Jesus he was in so much distress He sweat drops of blood. I do not believe there is anything wrong with you at all, you are going through a lot right now and you need someone to be strong for you. Ask.

  14. xinyi says:

    Thank you Mart because i sometimes do wonder if God can feel our sorrow and sadness but your blog gave me some sort of feeling that God can understand our feeling. Sometimes i do cried out to God so often and telling HIM about my breaking off problems with my bf. This is my first relation and i pray that God will understand what i feel. May He answered my prayer and walk with us…God bless you

  15. Becky M says:

    I also thank you Mart and everyone that placed an entry here. I know how tpl feels because I was brought up in a family that shunned emotions and yet at the same time showed anger in ways that would scare the life out of you(me). I got confused to say the least. I went about thinking that it was wrong or that I was wrong to show emotions especially outside the house(family). I often didn’t like myself if I thougt I was out of control. Rather I didn’t love myself because I thought nobody else loved me if I showed emotions, even when I thought I was showing love to someone, that bell would go off in my head and remind me that I’m giving to much of myself to someone else. I also used to be afraid to talk to God about it because I thought that I would just be annoying Him. But, I’ve since learned that God is the one I should go to about it more than anyone else. But, God has shown me that to go to someone that loves me(Christian love)it will help me also. Getting some Christian council is not to be shunned. Everyone here has given very good Christian councel and I appreciate all of it and this thread in your Been Thinking About blog, Mart. I have been taught by the Holy Spirit in many ODB’s and the inserts of Been Thinking About that comes montly with them. God bless all of you at RBC Ministries and your readers. None of you have any idea how God has helped me thru your ministry. God is love and I love you all in Jesus name. Thank you for your ears.

  16. altrerosje.asri says:

    If God could feel…. can He be a friend when I just need Him to just sit there with me and say nothing?

  17. desert rose says:

    tpl, I realize it has been days since you responded to this blog, but I wanted to comment about your feelings. Being a pastor’s wife is a difficult and a rewarding position to be in. Unfortunately, we forget as believers that we are all the same. We should not put one above the other.

    Is God interested in what you are feeling? Yes, I would suggest in addition to the fine counsel given you along with the scripture that you see your medical doctor as you could have a chemical imbalance. Your hormones might be out of whack with the miscarriage. That is a big loss and I feel for you.

    For those of us who do have sensitive feelings, try taking deep breaths and relax repeating this phrase:
    “I am resting in His care.”

    I am so thankful God knows we are human and He knows about our feelings. That is why the Bible is so full of compasion and words of encouragement.

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