Can God feel pain?


I have a book of 3000 quotations from the writings of George MacDonald. I looked under the heading “Belief/Unbelief,” but could not find it.

The closest that I found was under the heading “Faith.”


Having a heart is feeling. As the bible says: " You honor me with your lips, yet your hearts are far from Me."
If a mother felt anything for the fetus inside her womb, abortion would not be so easy. We don’t help someone because we think we should. Loving your neighbor as yourself requires putting yourself in another’s shoes. Having a relationship is more than just going through the motions-bringing flowers, buying jewelry, saying “I love you”. You’d better feel something or the relationship won’t last very long.


Nicely put LLC! :smiley:


Emotions may or may not accompany love (Greek agape). Dorothy Sayers, who was an Anglo-Catholic, mentioned in a letter to C. S. Lewis that she never once in her life felt a religious emotion. She did not doubt that some other people sometimes had religious emotions because she had read about them.

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.” (John 14:21)


We probably need to define “religious emotions”. The article at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, talks of many different contexts:

Emotions in the Christian Tradition

For example, the article:

Asks the question: Does religion have a single emotional center?
How do religious emotions differ from “ordinary” emotions?
The article talks about Gratitude, Contrition and Compassion. Do folks on this tread, consider them “religious emotions”?
Are religious emotions “cognitive”?

Good questions and sub-topics to consider.

Let me quote from the introduction:

Now suppose we were discussing “stink bomb” - without defining it. The common conception is probably something that blows up and stinks. But if we study the Wiki article:

Stink bomb

Things can get a whole lot deeper.


Let’s take a look at agape:

As we can see,to say love doesn’t include emotions is ridiculous. Moreover,


Do we WANT God to suffer pain?

Not a stupid question by the way - I’ve heard it stated on this forum that unless God suffers as we do, there is no point in honoring Him for anything.
Which seems to me to be…what’s that word?..ah, yes - Stupid.


I’m going to bite on this though Dave, you may have to bail me out or laugh at me. :smiley:

I would say suffering is a state of mind. I deal with many folks every day that make STUPID choices in their life and they ‘suffer’ the consequences. Gods laws and statutes are there for us to see, read and correct our lives by. Jesus in His sermon on the mount, gave us some new, very important advise on how to live.

In the USA, there are degrees of suffering. In Africa, there IS suffering.

Check out the link here


I’ll stand with ya, Chad.


Perhaps we’re not using the word “emotions” in the same way? I do not see emotions mentioned in either of those passages.

For example, when my daughter was a young infant, she (as is typical for infants) cried at any hour of the day or night whenever she was hungry. When I was awakened from sleep (night after night, week after week, month after month), and had to get out of bed at 3:30 a.m. (after already being out of bed at 11:15 p.m. and 12:09 a.m.), change her diaper, warm-up some formula, and hold and feed my daughter, I felt only one single thing: EXHAUSTION. I felt no emotions. I simply obeyed Christ’s command to feed the hungry. In obeying Christ I was loving both Him and my daughter. Emotions do not enter into it.

If, while doing all of this, I was awash in warm feelings/emotions, would that have made my love more? Certainly not. Love is in doing, not in feeling. (If it were in feeling, then we’d have to say that the moronic and hormonal teenagers “in love” with each other are the most loving people on earth, which would be preposterous.)

Reading George MacDonald was one of the most liberating things in my life. Before reading him (and C. S. Lewis), I struggled with the thought that I didn’t “love” God. I felt strong emotions for my beagle at a young age, and I felt strong emotions for my high school girlfriend, but I never felt strong emotions for God. How freeing to know from MacDonald and Lewis (who both, of course, learned it from Christ) that love consists in obeying God, regardless of emotion. We are not to screw-up our faces and try to manufacture feelings towards God (or towards anyone or anything). We are simply to obey Him, regardless of what emotions come or don’t come.

My wife had the exact same difficulty until I explained it to her. She, too, found great liberation in knowing that loving God, neighbor, and enemy consists in doing your immediate duty by them, not in trying to feel emotions about them. Lewis somewhere wrote that attempting to do that with one’s emotions inflicts harm on oneself.


The scriptures are clear that emotions are included in love. This doesn’t mean I’m perfect and always rejoice in doing good. Indeed, I go ahead and do good if I don’t feel like it. But I need to repent for having a sluggish heart. The scriptures are clear:

It is more virtuous when I take someone out to eat and pay for the meal with joy rather than begrudgingly. When I pay for the meal and they say “thank you” and I respond “it’s my pleasure” it’s not selfishness or arrogant. Seeking joy in doing good breaks pride. I go along with C.S. Lewis:

If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. - C.S. Lewis, The Weight Of Glory, 1-2.

To abhor or hate evil is an emotion.

Patience is an emotion. To rejoice in the truth or find joy in doing good is an emotion. To endure and hope is to feel. We are to rejoice in hope.
According to the KJV the fruit of the Spirit is love. One of the facets of this diamond is joy and peace:

Without a doubt love includes emotion. Christs love of purifying His bride was motivated by joy:



I found the link from Mr Beck’s blog, and to be honest, It is really interesting, as He equates Paul’s Romans 13 with poverty.


Love feelings usually accompany love practice.

The interesting thing is that if you dislike a person, but serve him, and do other things for him as you would do if you did have love feelings for him, the consequence is usually that you will begin to have love feelings for him as well!

Geoffrey, George MacDonald used the word “passion” in reference to both hate and love. If passion isn’t emotion, then what is?

Alex Forbes of Howglen

Though we may distinguish between acts of love and feelings of love, it is my belief that love in its fullness includes both action and feelings.


I suspect that at bottom there is not much disagreement here. That said, I suspect that our touchy-feely culture is leading to some unfortunate expressions. Two questions:

  1. When I was a teenager, I used to sit in my room alone and feel “love” for my girlfriend with such intensity that I thought my chest would burst. Was that love? I say no. What say you?

  2. When I was a new father, I used to sit half-dead and feed my infant daughter at ungodly hours of the morning, feeling only exhaustion. Was that love? I say yes. What say you?


Jesus Christ suffered the most horrible pain imaginable in loving and purifying His bride. Yet

Love includes emotion.


regard with disgust and hatred


Paidion said:

**You are right ** :open_mouth: But many ask… how do we move from bitterness, hatred and disgust, to making the step to love the un-loveable? :astonished:

What can you give as advise to actually making the step, extending the hand so to speak? (with the understanding that the two of you: being yourself and the one you are having issues with: just don’t get along…)


Somewhere C. S. Lewis wrote that acts of love are what we give God, and emotions are what God gives us. We must be content with what God gives (or not).

As for the word “passion”, I use it in only two senses:

  1. “The passions”, referring to our sinful inclinations. This is to be distinguished from our appetites. Eating and enjoying a banana because one is hungry is an appetite, and therefore innocent. Eating dozens of bananas at one sitting until we make ourselves sick is a passion, and therefore wicked.

  2. Christ’s “Passion”, referring to His sufferings for us.

I am of course aware of other uses of the word “passion” (such as “Collecting stamps was his passion.”), but I do not use the word thus.

George MacDonald often wrote of the vital importance of doing one’s duty, of obedience to God. He did write, in agreement with what you wrote, Paidion, that duty and obedience are the path but not the goal. In Heaven there will be no more duty or obedience. We will be effortlessly perfect. Speaking for myself here on earth, I am doing well when I am obedient (which is far too seldom). I am far, far from the Heavenly ideal. St. John Klimakos (of the Ladder) wrote a seminal work entitled The Ladder of Divine Ascent about 1,400 years ago. He gave a schemata of 30 “rungs”, each a step on the path to Christian perfection. When I first started reading the book, I said to myself, “I wonder which rung I am on? Five or six, perhaps?” As I started reading, it became clear that I was not even on the first rung. I’m still standing on the ground, perhaps with one foot in the air.


Yes but there is maturity at work. And responsibility, and commitment.

These (maturity, responsibility and commitment) are very strong and necessary things for a thriving community and thriving relationships to have. :cry:


IF one holds to “inspiration” then it is hard to question IF the One giving such inspiration can so instruct IF said One knew none of this itself.

This is where something like this might apply to a believer…

The reality is such might not always be possible, BUT the injunction to attempt such is there for the believer to as best possible exercise.

Well whatever it is you have come to conclude about such “intensity”… it was clearly an emotion.


This is somewhat hilarious… I did a good search “Can God feel pain?” and I was brought to my own thread I created a year ago. As I was in the shower thinking again wondering if God feels pain. Does he really care? I then thought of 1st Cor 13 and some the descriptions are long suffering… Either long suffering is not love, and thus not a part of God, or God is not love, and the third most likely scenario that God does indeed suffer because he is love and love is long suffering.

Someone asked “Do we want God to feel pain? and suffer?” Well, that is precisely the reason I think we should answer the question. If God does not feel pain or suffer, than anything I do against him is merely bad for me, not him. That means, in a sense, me loving him is merely self serving and has nothing to do with the love described in 1st Cor 13. It is not love at all, but self interest.

For example - God calls us to “Love your God will all your heart, soul, strength and mind” yet love is:

Love is patient (some translations;long suffering) and kind
love does not envy or boast
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way
it is not irritable or resentful
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.

Can I not show patience towards God? Can I not be arrogant and rude towards him? Can I also not insist on my own way? Can I not be resentful towards him?

Yet, one thing I might have learned through my most recent episode is affliction is that I am violated that type of love because:

  1. I am not patient for him to complete his work. I want it now!
  2. I insist he does it now!
  3. Because he does not do it now, I am resentful and irritable!
  4. I am being arrogant by believing He is not doing his best for me or anything for me at all

But how can I begin to love a God who can’t really feel any relational pain? What I mean is, that loving a stoic non-movable God who is so resilient that he expresses no emotion, does not flinch, does not feel is akin to talking to a wall. Like, you pour your heart out to him and nothing. At least, you believe it is nothing because you believe perhaps wrongly, that God does not suffer.

But when Jesus gives us the prodigal son parable, we see him leering out looking for his son to come home and is rejoicing (which indicates some form of reversal state of emotion.)

All I am really saying is that it is doing me harm to believe that God has no feelings. Because I don’t know how a relationship can be ever be authentic without the possibility of hurt. I am not saying this is not possible, I am saying I don’t see how it is possible. For me, at this point in my life, believing that God the father feels no pain feels is akin to a great heresy in my mind.

Christianity always stresses how Christianity is a relationship, yet it seems more like a cliché than a real belief especially in light of a God who cannot feel anything. That said, I judge no one in regards to their relationship with God. It is complicated and fragmented. People suggest it really isn’t maybe that would be true if no religion didn’t exist we all sought out God of ourselves via his general revelation, but the amount of “I have the correct theology” out there is staggering. It is almost so staggering that one has to wonder why God allows such confusion.