“And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.”
-2 Corinthians 6:19
There are those of us who have been raised by both a mother and a father, and there are many who have grown up lacking a parental figure. Yet the void is there, and each of us has sought to fill the gap, whether that gap is the tender love of a mother or the guidance and discipline of a father. Among those, are people who have had inadequate parents, maybe abusive parents. They too have a gap, an inner longing that can’t be ignored, not even in the passage of time.
No parent is perfect, but what makes a good earthly parent is love. A love that drives both parent and child to learn and grow together. It is a journey we are all on, regardless of age, a journey towards the Heart of God. Failure is inevitable, we will make mistakes, but what defines us is how we treat our failures. Do we give up? Or do we learn, dust ourselves off and try again? Luckily, we have the life of Jesus to look upon to guide us, and the Bible equips us in all matters, including parenting. We can even read all the stories of mothers and fathers who weren’t perfect by any means but learned great lessons through their short-comings, like Sarah and Abraham who had to learn to trust God. There are also stories of great parental love, like Jochebed who saved her son Moses life by sending him down the river in a basket, away from the slaughter of his fellow Hebrews.
It is no wonder, despite our shortcomings, that God still intends for us to continue parenting. He created the family dynamic as the best possible means of upbringing His children. We see the impact it has on kids when they are raised in a loving home, with parental love and guidance. Children grow secure in the knowledge they are loved and able to succeed. For those who are lacking parents, there are parental figures that are just as important. Whether related or not, God equips them to fill in the space of parent, offering advice, comfort, or simply being someone that is an ever-present figure to look up to. Whatever the circumstance, our need goes even deeper, so much so that our own creator has taken the role of Father, and us His adopted children.
Why a father? From God, both mother and father qualities reside as He is neither male nor female, nor Human for that matter. He is simply God and all things that we know to be both male and female characteristics came from His innermost being. We do not see this split until Adam finds himself at a loss while looking for a suitable companion. God then takes Eve from Adam’s being and sets her apart. And that is when the family as we know it began. Marriage binds both male and female together again, as one flesh, and it is both those qualities that help mold and shape children.
As to why we call God Father and not Mother can be explained by our deep need as I mentioned before, it is a need that affects the world at large. To further explain, here is a quote from William P. Young’s novel, The Shack:
“Let me say for now that we knew once the Creation was broken, true fathering would be much more lacking than mothering. Don’t misunderstand me, both are needed- but an emphasis on fathering is necessary because of the enormity of its absence”
Universally we are lacking true fathering. Nothing against the fathers out there, as I said this is a worldwide problem that has led to many others. Satan has attacked fathers greatly because of their potential impact. Imagine a world where every father followed God, and took charge of their families, what would this world look like? A mothers role is important, but the father is the head of every family by design. Removing this makes parenting substantially harder. A mother can manage it, but that child still needs a fatherly role model. Scientifically it is proven that young boys need a male father figure more than young girls do, as an abstract from National Bureau of Economic Research states:
“…we find that adolescent boys engage in more delinquent behavior if there is no father figure in their lives. However, adolescent girls’ behavior is largely independent of the presence (or absence) of their fathers.”
God has understood this great need, and though He has been called many names, “Father” or “Abba” is His most personal title. You can see what kind of relationship someone has with God by what they call Him both in the open and in secret. To some, God is not a father figure. Maybe they grew up abused by their own father, much like Mack in The Shack was. This can make it hard to imagine God as a “good” father. In order to shield their hurt, they avoid the term, until it becomes true for them. We call God what we know to be true, what we believe most about Him. It is time that He was seen as a Father again. In fact, it is necessary.
Satan has an agenda to destroy us. He does this through destroying our identity and our foundations. He fills the void with lies that lead to rebellion against God. But this world is full of orphans who need to see that a loving Father wants them in the family. That is the heart of God. All of us have seen good fathers, even if we didn’t have them ourselves, we know what a good father is, how much more is the Father who created them good? The fact is, if God was a bad Father, He couldn’t create a good one. Evil only creates evil, and true goodness only creates goodness. Our God is a good Father, just as Jesus is the good shepherd towards His flock.
I can say this with certainty because God has proven His character in my life. He has been a good Father to me. I’ve seen Him protect and shield me, guide me, and correct me even when I didn’t want to hear it. I respect His authority and yet I also get to laugh and dance with Him. He is everything a Father should be and more. Like the story of the Prodigal Son, He is good to me even when it doesn’t make sense. I don’t deserve such a love, but He calls me worthy.
What is your story? How has God displayed Himself as Father in your life?
“Surely you are still our Father! Even if Abraham and Jacob would disown us, LORD, you would still be our Father. You are our Redeemer from ages past.” – Isaiah 63:16
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.” -Luke 12:32
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” –