Christians often talk of God as though He is above emotions, and that emotions are only human characteristics. Because of this, many people feel uncomfortable sharing their true emotions with God, perhaps thinking that He cannot understand or handle them. However, this idea comes from the theological concept of impassibility, which teaches that God is not able to feel anything in response to what someone else does. Unfortunately, this idea has pervaded Christian thought for centuries and still affects much of theology today, but it is not a biblical concept. The Bible is full of God’s emotions and His personal responses to His people.
God portrays His relationship with His people as a marriage, implying deep love and commitment and emotional attachment. This is why God responds with such anger and grief when His people sin. God is a personal being, who feels infinitely more deeply than we ever will. God never sins in His emotions, but this does not mean He does not have them! In Deuteronomy 1, Moses recalls God’s anger when the people believe the lies of the spies instead of trusting in God’s power to save them, as He had in so many past miracles (vv. 32–36). To God, their doubt was a personal attack, showing that they had not given Him their hearts, and He was wounded to the core. God had done so much for them, bringing them from Egypt, working mighty things in their behalf, and holding them close to Himself; yet they act as though they do not care. This betrayal cuts deep. Amazingly, God still forgives them and bears long with them (four hundred years of their betrayal until He allows the exile).
To further help the people understand the emotions God feels, God often calls prophets to go through the same experiences as He did, so that they feel the same emotions and can therefore express God’s emotions to Israel. For instance, Hosea is asked to marry a prostitute, who is unfaithful to him, and then asked to marry her again (Hosea 1:2, 3:1). Hosea feels anguish and pain at her betrayal but also anger at the continued repetition of it, as she seems to flaunt his love and forgiveness. This experience directly parallels the persistent unfaithfulness of Israel, and the anguish mixed with anger that God feels as a result (Hosea 11:1–11). Far from being a God who does not understand, God feels deeply and shares emotional experiences with us. He also feels great joy and happiness when we choose to follow Him and become His people!