I will never forget the pain I endured when one of my teenage children came to me and confessed, “Dad, I’ve never once felt as if I’ve pleased you. I’ve never felt worthy of your love. I feel like I’ve let you down my whole life. You must be really disappointed in me.”

No words ever hurt me more. I asked myself what I might have done to make my child feel that way. Then, hurting deeply inside myself, I embraced my tearful young one. I thought, “How wrong. I’ve shown this child my love. I’ve spoken it and demonstrated it time after time. All my other children feel secure in my love. How could this child carry such a misconception for so long and bear such unnecessary misery and guilt?”

I told my beloved child, “You’ve always been special to me. Why, you’ve been the apple of my eye. I think of you and my whole being lights up. Sure, you’ve done foolish things at times, but so have your siblings. And you were forgiven. You were truly sorry, and I never once thought less of you. You’re nothing but a joy to me. You’ve made me happy all your lifetime. You’ve been a delight to my heart.”

So it is with many Christians in their relationship with the heavenly Father. The devil has convinced these believers they’ve only disappointed God and will never please him. So they simply don’t accept God’s love. Instead, they live as if his wrath is always breathing down on them. What a horrible way to go through life. And how pained God is when he sees his children living this way.

Beloved, from the day you were born, you’ve been special to your heavenly Father.