Perhaps no term better describes the state of mankind across the globe right now than this one. In many nations this description is practically a one-way guaranteed ticket to poverty, homelessness and starvation. In others, multiple studies show it often sets those left alone or left behind on a path toward lesser and yet still frighteningly negative, threatened results: food insecurity, dropping out of school, incarceration. Of course these results are not inevitable, but the downward pull of the current of culture on a child left with only one parent is a powerful one.
Here’s the sometimes difficult-to-swallow truth: women and children need strong, faithful men involved in their lives to experience all God wants for them. (We needn’t get up in arms about such an assertion, as God Himself already made it clear way back in the beginning that men don’t do well without women, so we don’t even need to go over that. As Rita Rudner once said, “Men don’t live well by themselves. They don’t even live like people. They live like bears with furniture.”) God designed families with a mother and father for a reason: We need each other.
God promises to be a father to the fatherless, to set the lonely in families. He portrays himself in scripture as a father both to prodigals and resentful church kids, ready to throw a party for either one at any given moment. As Ephesians 3:15 asserts, “[God is] the Father from whom all fatherhood derives its name.”
What can we learn about what families need from dads, from the example God the Father sets for us? What does God as a Father do that we can take notes from?
*A father provides for his child.
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
Your child needs you to provide for them gladly.
*A father affirms his child.
“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17
Your child needs to hear that you are well pleased with him.
*A father disciplines his child.
“And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? …” Hebrews 12:5-11
Your child needs to know you care enough to take time to correct her.
*A father directs his child.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8
Your child needs the benefit of your age and wisdom as he makes decisions.
*A father sacrifices for his child.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Your child needs to see you sometimes giving something important up for her sake.
Ultimately, we see the clearest representation of God the Father in Jesus, Himself. Studying Jesus’ interaction with His disciples—touching them (washing feet!), counseling them, affirming them, feeding them, healing them, teaching them, and ultimately giving His life for them—is the most perfect example of what fatherhood should look like.
Jesus said, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:9
And just in case you or your children are without a father today? Know this: Jesus came to show that you’re actually not.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:3-6
Today, I pray you know the perfect love of the perfect Father. And if you’re a dad, I pray you reflect that kind of fatherhood to your children.