Psalm 68:5 “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.”
I remember being six and almost losing my dad. I don’t think I completely understood what was going on, but I still remember the fear. My story has a good ending, because my dad didn’t die. He was paralyzed and pushed into an early retirement that basically meant I got to be closer with him than I ever was before. I’m very thankful that he is still here, and has helped me navigate through life during some very crucial years.
Last week, the father of two of my cousins (almost 5 and 3 years old) died suddenly in a boating accident. My heart hurts for them, and I can’t help but think of how different my life would have been if way back when I was six my story had been, “Her father died suddenly in an accident in the US Air Force.” When we realize how important and vital fathers are for kids, how do you move on?
I also think of my friend Sofia, whose dad died of cancer when she was only 3. I think of people whose fathers walk out on them when they are young, or those whose fathers are home but may be abusive or just don’t care. Earthly fathers are not always able to be the stable anchors for their kids or leaders that God intended, and my heart hurts for those who live with these experiences. My first reaction when I see the pain and loss is to question God’s plan, but when you look at Scripture, God never leaves His children without a father.
God’s plan is laid out in many places for the husband to be the loving leader for his wife and kids, but we live in a sinful world where not everything goes with God’s original plan. I think of Job in the Bible, who lost all of his kids, all of his wealth, and his health basically in a day. His response when he found out that all of his kids had died was to bless the Lord, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). He experienced complete wealth and happiness, and then experienced losing it and complete misery. To top it off, he was told that it was his fault because he had made God angry or sinned without knowing it. God finally set the record straight by appearing in a tornado, reminding Job who was in control of the earth and who created the earth. The only one who can answer why something happens is the Creator: not Job, not us.
God refers to Himself as our Heavenly Father. John 1:12 says, “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” Hebrews 12:7-8 says, “Remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.”
The point to God’s message as our Father makes all of the pain and worry of losing our earthly fathers bearable. Not only does He offer us the love and support that we all need from a father, but He also offers us the discipline and guidance needed to become the people we need to be in life. I can’t imagine going through life without a father, but even more difficult would be to go through life without knowing God personally and claiming Him as my heavenly Father. God provides us everything that we need in a relationship with Him, and so many people live life without ever knowing the loving relationship He offers as part of His Salvation plan.
I’m so thankful that my friend I spoke of earlier, Sofia, has found saving knowledge in God, because with her earthly father gone, she now can lean and depend on her heavenly Father!