I work with a lot of people who struggle with self-esteem, and many lack a sense of purpose for their lives. Even after fully surrendering themselves to God, another part of them still struggles with completely believing that God loves them or that God is for them.
God is not distant.
Satan wants to distract believers from the reality of God's love. He wants to convince them that God doesn't really care about them, that He still will punish them, or that He will change His mind and go back on His promises. Scripture often uses the imagery of adoption to show how God really views believers:
"So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, 'Abba, Father.'" (Romans 8:15, NLT)
A pretty accurate translation of Abba is "Daddy." This indicates a very close, intimate relationship. When you put your faith in Christ, you are adopted as a child of God. I really like how Charles Spurgeon explains it when he says:
"He who counts the stars, and calls them by their names, is in no danger of forgetting His own children. He knows you as thoroughly as if you were the only creature He ever made, or the only saint He ever loved!"
Embracing your true identity.
The statement below (in bold) is an affirmation I use to teach others who are struggling with self-esteem or a deep-seated belief that God is not really for them. I encourage you to write it out and place it in a location where you see it daily, either on your bathroom mirror, in your car, or in your Bible:
God loves and accepts me unconditionally the way I am right now, therefore I accept myself unconditionally the way I am right now.
It's interesting that John, who wrote several books of the Bible, and who was Jesus' youngest disciple, refers to himself as “the disciple that Jesus loved” or the “Beloved Disciple.” It is clear that He rooted his whole identity in Christ.
In our modern world, many people link their identity to their job. In fact, it’s the first thing people ask after learning your name. We can often hitch our self-worth to our productivity and base our identity on what we do. But whenever we root our identity in anything other than God, it is idolatry. It is God who created us—only He can define us. There are even good things we can try to base our lives on: our job, our relationships, our family, and even ministry itself!
John doesn’t do this. He doesn't just call himself a disciple, but “the disciple that Jesus loved.” His identity was not rooted in Himself but in God.
I challenge you to memorize and quote the affirmation listed above whenever you feel defeated. Your feelings and mood may shift day to day, but God's heart toward you will never change.