(This article has been excerpted from Nancy Missler's book The Way Of Agape, which explores the love that God has for us and the love that God can give us for each other.)
It is critical to know God loves us, not just in our heads, but in our every day life experience. We need to know God loves us "experientially" so that no matter what happens to us circumstantially, emotionally or physically, the security of His Love is always there.
We also need to have the assurance of His Love in order to move ahead in our Christian walk. Not knowing if He loves us or not, will hinder our being able to-moment-by-moment-surrender our wills and our lives to Him and love others as He desires. "Okay, Nancy," you might say, "Prove it to me that God loves me personally. I don't feel it. I don't see it. I don't hear Him. So, how can I know and believe it's true? What proof do I have?" One person even said to me years ago, "Nancy, God's Love is a gift that only some people receive, not all of us are that lucky." Well, I believe she's wrong. I believe we are all that lucky, and I believe, with the Holy Spirit's help, I can prove it!
In this short article, I would like to focus on four major reasons why we can "know" that God loves us personally: God's Word:1) The first reason we can know that God loves us individually, is because He says so in His Word. Listen:
"Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn thee." - Jeremiah 31:3
"Since you are precious in my sight...and I have loved thee...Fear not: for I am with you." Isaiah 43:4-5
"As the Father has loved Me (Jesus), so have I loved you." John 15:9
"Behold what manner of Love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." 1 John 3:1
These are just a few of the many Scriptures that tells us that God loves us personally. At the end of this article, I have listed some further Scriptures on His Love. Since God's Word is the Truth, we need to believe and trust in what He says . An Example: Discovering God's Love:Let me share a beautiful example of someone who learned not only how much God loved her, but also went on to experiencing God loving others through her.
Linda was brought up in a church that taught that God was a God of Righteousness, Justice and Judgment - not a God of Love, but One to be feared. (The truth is, of course, that God is a God not only of Righteousness, Justice and Judgment, but also of Love, Mercy and Compassion.) Therefore, when Linda's personal life began to fall apart, she found no consolation from a God of Justice and Holiness. She needed Someone who personally loved her and cared for her. Finally, one of her friends (from another church) showed her from Scripture, that God is a God not only of Holiness, Justice and Righteousness, but also a God of Love, Compassion, Forgiveness and Mercy.
He told her that God not only loved her and would forgive her for all her transgressions, but that He also wanted to heal her and fill her with His Love so that she could pass it on to others. Linda could hardly believe what she was hearing; it was too wonderful to even comprehend. Was God really like this? Did He really love her like that? Could she really learn to love others with His Love? The first few weeks after that conversation, Linda tried to believe in a God who unconditionally loved her.
Each time she chose to step out in faith, however, the old nagging doubts came rushing back in and the overwhelming fear of condemnation and guilt consumed her. She finally ended up - out of pure desperation - writing down all of God's promises of Love in the Bible (like the list at the end of this article) on 3x5 index cards, and carrying these cards with her wherever she went (in her pocket, in her purse or in her car). When the doubts, unbelief, and the enemy's taunts came in, she quickly confessed and repented of them, whipped out those cards, and read out loud how much God loved her.
Finally, she chose to step out in faith and believe what God's Word said. Even though she didn't "feel" anything yet, she persevered by faith and God honored her obedience by eventually aligning her feelings with her choice. In His timing and way, she began to have "living experience" that God did, indeed, love her. And, upon that solid foundation, she was able to continue her walk with God and learn to love others. Linda, to me, is a perfect example of a Christian who believed in God, but didn't have living experience that He loved her. Therefore, she was not able to move forward in her Christian walk.
The Christian walk is a faith walk, not a feeling walk. Can't Move Forward: It doesn't matter how long you have been a Christian, how many people you have led to the Lord, how many Scriptures you have memorized, or how many Bible studies you have taught. If you don't know that God loves you personally, you're not going to be able to grow. If you have difficulty really believing and intimately experiencing this in your own life (just like Linda did), then see the Scriptures on Knowing God Loves Me at the end of this article. Make up 3x5 cards, just like Linda did. Keep these cards with you at all times-in your car, in your purse, on the mirror in the bathroom, etc.
Then, when doubts, fears, unbelief, insecurities, etc., come over you, whip out those cards, confess and repent of the things that are not of faith and give them to God. Then choose by faith - not by feelings - to believe what God says and in His timing, He will align your feelings to match your choices.
Additional Scriptures on God's Love:
He loves us so much that, "He bowed the heavens also, and came down." (Psalm 18:9) And, "He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters." (Psalm 18:16)
He loves us so much that, He has engraved us upon the palms of His hand. (Isaiah 49:16) He loves us so much that, He will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) "For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed; but my (Love)* shall not depart from thee, neither shall my covenant of peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." (Isaiah 54:10)
"As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His (Love)* towards them that fear Him." (Psalm 103:11) "Many are the afflictions of the righteous. But the Lord delivers them out of them all. He keepeth all his bones; not a one of them is broken." (Psalm 34:19-20)
"When you pass through the waters (trouble) I will be with you; and through the rivers, they won't overflow you; when you walk through the fire, you won't be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord...You are precious in My sight and I LOVE YOU..." (Isaiah 43:2-4) "God commendeth His Love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son." (John 3:16) "...having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end." (John 13:1) "What shall separate us from the Love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...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 creature shall be able to separate us from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord." (Romans 8:35, 38-39)
* The Hebrew word here is chesed which can be translated, "mercy", "kindness", "lovingkindness", "goodness", and "favor".
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