A bit of advice. If you ever find yourself in an informal counseling situation, and the person blurts out something like, “I know God hates me,” don’t be too quick to disagree. I realize the default to such a statement is “No, that’s not true, don’t say that. God doesn’t hate you, He loves you.” I’m just suggesting you take a slow roll in getting there. Hear me out.
When you respond to someone this way you inadvertently commit two errors: (1) You convey to the person you know them better than they do. They may think to themselves that you evidently don’t want to hear what they have to say, and (2) you won’t be able to get to the root of the person’s problem. They may in fact be involved in something that God does hate, and they know it, and they were that close to telling you but you waved them off.
At first, just take them at their word. You can sort out the details after you get them.
C. S. Lewis opens a November 1, 1954, letter to Mary Willis Shelburne with a gentle rebuke. Evidently in an earlier letter Ms. Shelburne told Lewis she did not know French and Lewis took her word for it. When she later corrected him he responded,
“If you tell me that you don’t know French, of course I believe you! If you are only coying and found my literal acceptance of the statement a shock — well, it’ll ‘larn you’ to practice mock modesty another time. It never works with me, I assure you. If a man tells me he can’t do something I always believe him: he ought to know!”1
If someone says God hates him, he ought to know! Now to find out why.
“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” – Ephesians 4:25.
- Walter Hooper, ed., The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963, Vol. III (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2007), 521. Italics in original.