Have You Heard God Loves You?
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

He was old, and tired, and bent with an affliction he’d suffered all his life, and he was a friend of mine. (I’ll call him Joe to protect his identity.)

He’d had a very successful career and was enjoying retirement, though he was lonely. We’d had numerous casual and friendly conversations about our spiritual beliefs. He had often told me that his god was nature, and he was content with that. I was frustrated because I felt I’d never been able to finish telling him the whole, marvelous Gospel story.

So one day when he dropped in for a visit, I said, “Joe, somehow our conversations are always interrupted by something, and I’ve never gotten to finish what the Bible tells us about God. Would today be a good day for me to go through the whole Bible story about how God feels about us?”

Being a courteous man, he said, “Sure.”

Imagine trying to encapsulate the whole Bible story into one brief and comprehensive message! Impossible! But I took a deep breath and made a valiant try.

“Joe, God created human beings so He could love us and give us all the treasures of Heaven. God isn’t a mindless, primitive urge of nature without purpose. The awesome design of this world proves He is an almighty, intelligent Person. He designed this earth with us on His mind. He wanted us to love Him, but He gave us a choice whether we would love Him and obey Him or not. Unfortunately, we all chose our own, sinful ways. So He and Jesus covenanted to save us from our sins by Jesus’ paying our awful penalty of death on the cross.

“God isn’t an angry old man leaning over the balcony of Heaven with a big 2 X 4 just hoping you’ll do get out of line just a little tiny bit so He can whomp you! He watches over you tenderly, compassionately, hoping you’ll accept His love.

“Joe, do you understand? God loves you. He wants you to be with Him forever, so He can give you all His treasures. Joe, listen. That’s why Jesus died. God loves you so much, He was willing to give up the Son He loved for you. God loves you.”

Joe looked at me without a word for a long minute. Then his eyes filled with tears. “Nobody ever told me that God loves me. I didn’t know that God loves me.”

God does love Joe, and God loves you. God loves every one of the people He created with such joy. The Bible says it over and over again. Here’s how First John 4:8-10 (niv) says it:

God is love.
God showed how much He loved us
by sending His only Son into the world
so that we might have eternal life through Him.
This is real love.
It is not that we loved God,
but that He loved us and sent His Son
as an atoning sacrifice to take away our sins.

Have you heard? God loves you passionately. Hear it, and believe!