13th March 2013

I Need A Hug

“We know and rely on the love God has for us.”
1 John 4:16 (NIV)

Out of the blue my 13 year old granddaughter decides she needs a hug. She homes in, puts her arms round me and quietly snuggles, no words spoken.

But why this sudden need for a hug? Is it for reassurance that she’s loved? But she must know she’s loved, with all the proof she’s had, just as we “know the love God has for us,” as the verse above says, because of all the proof he’s given us.

But knowing she’s loved doesn’t seem to be enough, because she also needs a hug. And when I saw this need in her, I realised I had the same need myself. I know God loves me, and I know Scripture says we can, “approach God with freedom and confidence” (Ephesians 3:12), just as my granddaughter knows she can approach me with freedom and confidence, but like her I need something more than just knowing I’m loved. I need to feel it in some sort of obvious, personal, recognisably-from-God way, that makes the connection between him and me real.

And that brought to mind the second part of 1 John 4:16, that as Christians we also, “rely on the love God has for us.” ‘Rely’ suggests a constant basis, because one hug won’t do, just as one hug isn’t enough for my granddaughter. She relies on a steady supply of hugs.

It’s interesting to read, then, that God is all for us homing in on him for a steady supply of hugs as well. We can, “walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give” (Hebrews 4:16, MSG), just like my granddaughter feels utterly free to walk right up to me any time to get the hug I’m so ready to give.

So what’s a hug from God like? Well, like any hug, it has to be personal, and so personal it gives us a vivid picture of his intimate involvement in our moment-by-moment lives and his complete awareness of our needs. We’ll probably see quite clearly, looking back, how brilliantly tailored his hug was to our personality, and how it met our time of need to a tee. Or we’ll see that it was just the booster shot we needed to keep us encouraged, sane and agreeable at a painful time in our lives (Romans 15:5 MSG). This is what I believe my hugs for my granddaughter do for her, because I notice her need for hugs increases when she’s going through a rough time.  

Hugs make love real in a way that words alone may not be able to do. And hugs seem such an automatic thing to do when comfort is needed – as automatic for God as they are for us – but he was the One who designed it this way, because he knew what a hug would do.

There are times when we desperately need a hug, Father, so it’s great to know you love giving them.

Study by Jonathan Buck

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