The God Who Feels

(Apprx. reading time: 3 minutes 2 seconds)

Have you ever wondered if God feels, and if He does what it’s like for Him? To some people that will sound like a ridiculous question with an obvious answer. But maybe to others like me, it hasn’t always been so clear. Oh I know the correct theological answer because I have spent years in formal and informal study of the Bible. But I really didn’t begin to understand the answer until I felt God’s heart one summer night, years ago.

I was leaving downtown to head back to the safety of my home. It was hard to conceive that two areas separated by only ten miles could represent such alternate realities. I had been “guilted” by a friend into going downtown to serve at the church’s mission outpost in a rather unsavory part of the inner city. We had spent the night walking the seedy neon streets, trying to talk to the poor and indigent about a God who loves them and feels their pain. I can’t remember anything particularly noteworthy about the evening other than the sense of relief I felt that when evening’s ministry assignment was over and I could return home. But on the way to my car in a back alley…God showed up…in the form of a drunk.

I saw him stumbling up the street headed in no particular direction. The only thing that was clear is that this old man was very dirty, very drunk and very lost. I stared at him as I fumbled with my keys trying to find the lock on my car door. What happened next took me completely by surprise… I began to weep. As I stared at this miserable drunken man, I was overwhelmed with God’s heart of love and grief towards this poor lost soul. In one instant I felt the weight of God’s love for this man and His compassion towards his plight. And I wept…uncontrollably…sobbing. I could not stop crying as I felt the heart of God shattered for a wasted life…a man, made in the image of God, barely recognizable as God’s creation, yet loved with a perfect love by the One who formed him as a baby in his mother’s womb.

I wish I could say that I walked up to him and saved his soul. That was not the case. I sat in my car sobbing inconsolably as he stumbled into the darkness of that hot July evening. I don’t know how long I sat there weeping but I am sure that that drunken man wasn’t the only one who needed help that night. God was showing me some things about Himself that I needed to know. Having walked out of my own share of pain and brokenness in my life, I needed to know about the God who feels…deeply…completely…with a heart of love…and compassion.

“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…” Hebrews 1:3

Having served as a pastor in a large church, I have seen my share of human pain and suffering. I have seen things that made me wonder about a loving God. But as I consider Hebrews 1:3, that Jesus is the exact representation of the Father in human form…God in the flesh, I see in Him the God who feels deeply…completely…with a heart of love…and compassion.

How did the God who feels show compassion and where is that seen for us today? According to author Bev VanKampen, the following examples in Jesus’ life demonstrate His heart of compassion. Though not a comprehensive list, I encourage you to read each account that highlight the Lord’s priority for those in pain and need:

  •  The Grieving – Luke 7:13
  • The Helpless – Matthew 9:36
  • The Sick – Matthew 14:14
  • The Hungry – Matthew 15:32
  • The Spiritually Blind – Matthew 23:37-39

That fateful night years ago was my introduction to the heart of God. In a small and profound way, the Lord allowed me into His heart to feel the compassion He was feeling for one of His lost children. Since that night I have learned that the best way to find the heart of God is to find someone experiencing something in the list above and find a way to be Jesus to them.

How have you experienced the heart of God in your life? I would love to hear from you.