One would rarely admit publicly that he thinks God does not love him. A believer would be hesitant to reveal such a belief to his pastor or another respected leader. How often, however, have believers thought it within themselves or stated it in frustration to a friend? The assertion may exhibit some variation - that God doesn't love them very much, that He doesn't love them as much as He used to, that He doesn't love them as much as He loves someone else, or that He doesn't love them anymore. Perhaps instead of a statement, they express it as a question or doubt: I wonder if He loves me, I wonder why I don't see His love, I guess He is mad at me.
Regardless of how (or if) believers express it, Christianity seems to have a fairly widespread conception of God as a judgmental, unpredictable tyrant who flies into a rage and beats His children for every wrong move, that He is incensed if they step out of line even once in any area, and that He is interested in their personal lives only when they violate His commands.
The reality is that God is a god of love. As such, He is inclined toward His children. He wants to help them, wants to bless them, wants to see them grow. He wants to enjoy sweet fellowship with them. He wants to respond to their needs and desires. In contrast to being a god who rejects his followers for the smallest offence, the true God embraces believers upon their smallest advance toward Him.
The misconception about God's love comes in part from the knowledge of Bible stories, especially from the Old Testament, in which God poured out His wrath. While there certainly were instances of God's decisive judgment, those were against wicked and unrepentant people. The Bible is also filled with truths and stories demonstrating a very different response to those who believed in God, repented of their sins, and sought Him. There are far more verses than I can include in this post, but here is a sampling that illustrates God's positive inclination toward those who genuinely seek Him.
"For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). God is pleased to see His work accomplished in His children.
"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:11). God wants to give good gifts if believers will simply ask.
"Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know" (Jeremiah 33:3). God answers when His children call and wants to do even more than they ask.
"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us" (Ephesians 3:20). God wants to do abundant things beyond what man can even imagine, let alone ask.
"He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him" (Psalm 91:15). It's that simple. When Christians call, God answers. The psalms are filled with verses attesting to this truth.
How about some specific examples? Jacob connived and fought to make his success without God's help, but when he finally begged for God's blessing, God changed his name and pronounced blessing upon him. In great anguish and distress, Hannah cried and begged God for a son, and God responded by giving her a son. Hezekiah prayed during his severe illness, and God healed him and added years to his life. On numerous occasions God provided food, gave protection, and brought victory in battle, along with many other miracles for the benefit of His children.
The stories could continue, because they are many. These are stories of people in great need and in helpless situations. Because He was inclined to them, God responded to their simple prayers. He met their needs, gave them blessings, and delivered them.
God wants people to come to Him. He wants to receive and help them. "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9). "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out" (John 6:37).
As a note of caution, this prevalent Biblical truth is not a magic formula or a guarantee of bounty. It is not an assurance that God will do everything His children want. God's interaction with His children is filtered through His infinite wisdom and ultimate plan. What ought to be abundantly clear, however, is the underlying inclination of God toward His children. He loves them very much and wants to do what is right and good for them. He wants to have a relationship with them as a loving God, not as an overbearing ogre. He is an accessible and interested God.
"You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13 (NASB)