My father was very abusive and cruel, and I admit I've never gotten over this. I know that's why I have such a hard time picturing God as a loving and kind father. But I can't help my feelings, can I? — N.McC.
My heart goes out to you, and to every person who has suffered some type of abuse as a child. Children are a gift from God, and child abuse of any kind is a sin.
But listen: More than anyone, God's heart goes out to you -- because He loves you. He knows what you've gone through and He understands the inner hurts you feel. He also understands why you have such a hard time thinking of Him as a loving heavenly Father.
But that is exactly what He is! Earthly fathers aren't perfect; some, in fact, may fail us in horrible ways. But God is perfect -- and so is His love. He is everything our fathers should be -- and more. The Bible says, "The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion" (Psalm 116:5).
How do I know this? I know it for one overwhelming reason: God sent His only Son into the world to give His life for us. He did this so we could become part of His family and go to live with Him forever in heaven. God loves you that much! Do you want to know if God loves you? Look at Jesus Christ, for He is the final proof of God's love for us.
Don't be chained to the past. Instead, turn to Jesus Christ and receive Him into your heart and life today. Then thank Him every day for His great love for you -- a love that will never change or fade away.