Q&R: Does God have feelings?

Question

Is God emotional? As in, do we cause God to suffer and/or does God suffer on our behalf?

Response

     It is complex for a few reasons:
     First and foremost, God is LOVE, and God responds to human suffering with compassion.
     We would however say that God’s love surpasses any human emotion, which can only be approximations of what God ‘feels.’ In God’s loving engagement with his children, God is not subject to our dramas (he is not reactive) but instead, responds from his own nature, which is immutable, unflappable love.
     Second, in the Incarnation, Christ fully entered the human experience, lived an authentically human life, emotions and all. In the indivisible union of God and humanity in the person of Christ, God experienced our emotions “in the flesh.”
     Third, the Incarnation then–where the fullness of the Godhead was embodied–was the quintessential act of divine empathy, whereby he not only felt what it is to be A human being but rather, united himself to the suffering of ALL humanity. That is, he didn’t just experience humanity like we do or in some ways that we do. Rather, he bore all our sins and sorrows, drawing up every human hurt into himself–every murder, every rape, every death.
     Fourth, the One who experienced this did so in space-time history but as the eternal one, directly engages my pain from his eternity union with me and within in. But no longer merely as a victim. He weeps with me as the One who wipes every. tear … knows my experience in empathy but from a place of plenitude. So again, God enters into my suffering but not subjected to it. Rather, as both wonderful Counsellor and great Physician, meeting us with his infinite spring of mercy as the Good Samaritan who ministers to the half-dead with oil, wine, and binds their wounds with snow-white bandages. He then also delivers us to the Inn, converting it from hostel to hospice, a symbol of the church as a house of healing, staffed by wounded healers.
     Finally, in the end, what matters is that our God reveals himself as God by his wounds. And those wounds mean he knows my wounds, bears my wounds, and from those wounds, flows a healing love that one doesn’t get from the ethereal gods or cold gods called ‘universe.’ Only the God who bears my scars is worthy of my worship.
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Brad Jersak

Brad Jersak

Brad Jersak is an author and teacher based in Abbotsford, BC. He serves as a reader and monastery preacher at All Saints of North America Orthodox Monastery. Read More