It's been a while since I recognized this truth, and I've processed and worked through my thoughts and feelings on this matter. So now I'm sharing them with you because I caught a small glimpse of the heart of God, and I want you to see it too.
A while ago, I was really struggling in one of my friendships. I was really upset because I valued this friendship, and I felt like my friend had become completely indifferent towards me. It seemed like no matter how much I tried to be friendly, they didn't care. In fact, in my mind, it began to seem like the more friendly I was, the more apathetic they became. This quickly turned into a very discouraging situation. I cried, I prayed, I racked my brain for answers. Finally, I realized that I couldn't keep doing it; I was not going to force my friendship somewhere it was not wanted. So, I backed off. And silently mourned the loss of a friendship that I still don't really have any hope of recovering.
My friend's apathy towards me was worse than hatred, because hatred at least requires a person to feel like you're worth spending their emotional energy on; indifference breeds a feeling of worthlessness because they don't even care enough to hate you. In addition, anger is likely to subside one day; it comes back again and again, flaunting its pain in your face until you deal with it. But apathy nestles quietly somewhere deep in the recesses of a heart where it is not likely to be disturbed again.
Somewhere in the midst of all of this emotional turmoil, I remember pouring my heart out to God. I told Him exactly how I felt. I told Him how hurt I was to lose a friend, one that I still cared about a lot. I told Him how their apathy made me feel, how it wounded my heart. And then it struck me. God gets that. He knows that feeling-- a billion times over. How many days of Earth's existence has God, who by definition is love, had to deal with the indifference of millions of His very own Creation? How often has God extended His love to us, not willing to force His love, but waiting with baited breath to see if we would accept His offer of friendship? How often has God backed off, mourning the loss of His Love and hoping that the day might come when we would change our minds? How deeply have we wounded His heart with our apathetic acknowledgment of His existence while we choose to invest our time and emotions in transitory endeavors?
Let me tell you the truth about apathy: it hurts. Deeper than hatred, it wounds the heart.
“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. . . Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.'" ~Revelation 3:15, 16, 20, ESV