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Hard to Love God

"Why do you think it’s sometimes hard for us to love God?” asks the study guide of a book by Henri Nouwen I've been slowly pondering through. Nouwen makes the following statements:

  1. Power offers an easy substitute for the hard work of love.
  2. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life.
  3. The temptation of power is greatest when intimacy is a threat. Much Christian leadership is exercised by people who do not know how to develop healthy, intimate relationships and have opted for power and control instead.
It’s hard to love God because loving him means yielding to him and often we don’t want to yield. We want to make our own decisions, make our own way in life, find our own solutions for our pain. Sometimes it seems like loving God simply increases the pain. As for being god, that is heady stuff. I was god to Pearl and it felt so good, so affirming. When I was with her, all felt good and right. But had I continued down that road, all those good feelings would have vanished and the resultant pain far worse than it ever had been. If I am god, I can control my destiny—or at least feel like I am—and part of me wants that. It feels safer.

Love requires giving to the loved one. With God, he’s not satisfied with just part of us, but all of us and that seems to be too much to give. So we avoid love and increase our power—not only over our own destinies but over that of others as well.

Where do I stand in the continuum between love and power? I think I crave power and find it difficult to love—especially those who seem unlovable to me, or whose needs are greater than what I am willing to give. I want to serve my own needs. I’m afraid that if I don’t, no one else will. And yet, I’m not afraid of intimacy. I yearn for it and seek it.

God, please help me with this. I want to be willing to choose love over power. Help me loosen my grip on the “need” to control.

In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership by Henri Nouwen. Quotes from pages 73-79.


Mikael said…
I like this. Loving God is submitting ourselves to him and giving him our whole beingness. It's hard to give up control over things we enjoy and take pleasure in; but God asks for that. And, I believe, when we do give him our all, he will give back what we have given over to him.

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About the Author


I'm married (35 years in December 2008) with four grown sons. I love my city (Winnipeg) and my country (Canada) and promote them both to whoever will listen. God (through Jesus Christ) is the biggest part of my life. I am learning to let him take control of all areas--though I do better at this some times more than others.

I have written a book that's recently been published about part of my journey with God. In it I tell how God confronted me with the same-sex attraction issues I've struggled with all my adult life and how he led me through them to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with him. God is amazing—his forgiveness, his love, his movement in our lives when we allow him and so much more. I suspect God will never run out of things to teach me or ways to make me grow and that’s a good thing (though often very painful).

I suppose I can say that what gives me the greatest pleasure in life is telling others about…

Memories of Mikael Vincent Tien Doe Chan

Reviews of Searching for Love

If you have read the book, I would love to hear your thoughts on it. You may e-mail me at or post them in the comments section below.

A Real Testimony
I finished your book. A real testimony to what God does for us.
Leona March 3, 2009
I Had Tears Coming

I sat down to read it about a week later and ended up finishing it the same night. At first I admit I was a little bored and thought that the whole book was about a battle all in your mind, but as I continued reading this creeping thought came over me of a different...struggle in my own life, that I would never in my right mind have shared with anyone accept maybe God. I've mentioned your book to a few people because it stirs up age-old controversies that I have myself argued and wondered about, namely about whether or not homosexuality can be cured or just managed like alcoholism--you just have to stay away from temptation. I noticed at the end of your book that your struggle story …