Growing up, I never had any doubt that my dad loved me. He was at every event, read everything I wrote, sent me flowers as my secret admirer for Valentine’s Day, took me to lunch to talk about the hard stuff, and always had my back–even when I let him down. I’m definitely the one who gave my dad his white hair, and I have been accused of causing his heart troubles as well. My dad loves hard and loves well. He has always been faithful to my mom, to us, and to his friends. Everyone knows they can count on my dad.
So, for me, accepting that I have a loving Heavenly Father wasn’t difficult. He was just a bigger and better version of what I already enjoyed here on Earth. He is always there for me (Deut. 31:6); He always has my best interests in mind (Jer. 29:11); He always provides for me (Phil. 4:19); and He loves me unconditionally (1 John 3:1).
But when my husband and I started to plan our family, I had no idea the world that I was about to see. As we pursued adoption, it soon became clear that not everyone is blessed with the amazing fathers that my husband and I have. While our adopted children may ask questions about their biological fathers, they are better off than many because they have a father who loves them and who is striving to learn how to be a godly father to them. He may make mistakes, but they know he loves them.
But our foster children have a harder time understanding a father’s love. Our first two girls craved my husband’s attention over mine. They wanted a daddy so bad that they would fight to be the one to sit atop his shoulders, hug him at the end of the day, or hold his hand. They adored him, and he adored them.
Our foster son had been through such deep trauma from his biological father that he wanted nothing to do with my husband. Instead, he gravitated toward me, cursing my husband and flipping him off if he tried to help him in any way. His anger toward a father figure was extremely evident and may be difficult for him to overcome as he grows.
As children came and went from our home, we could tell the ones who needed extra attention from my husband and those who needed to gradually trust him. And so, we loved them all and did our best to meet them where they needed us most.
While I would love to live in my little bubble and imagine that the average child is blessed with a father such as mine, I know that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1 in 4 children are without a father. The father crisis is evident by this image from InvestmentWatch.com:
Could it be that there is such a crisis in our country due to the lack of father figures for our children? The statistics seem to say so.
But I think that the real problem is that there is a gaping hole in each of us that only our Heavenly Father is capable of filling. The truth is that even the best father is sinful. My father has been a wonderful father to me, but he will be the first to tell you that he has made his fair share of mistakes. My husband has grappled with his role as a father as well and often falls short of our children’s expectations. Both of them love their families, but both of them are sinners in need of grace.
Regardless of whether or not your father has been a part of your life, the real ache–your real need–is for God. He is the only One Who will never fail you. He is the only One Who will be the perfect Father to you all the time. He is the only One Who will never disappoint, never fail, never break His promises, and never disappoint you.
He is the “father to the fatherless” (Ps. 68:5). That means that you are never truly without a father. He is right there with you at all times. Romans 8:15 encourages us, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!'” And in 2 Corinthians 6:18, we find His promise: “‘And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
For many, today was a day of deep ache. I spoke with one woman who told me she struggles on Father’s Day because she lost her dad many years ago and feels that ache profoundly on Father’s Day. But God can heal that ache. For others, Father’s Day may bring back painful memories of an absentee father or an abusive father. They have no one to honor. God can fill that void as well.
If today was a hard day for you, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry that your father is no longer with you. I’m sorry that your father abused you. I’m sorry that you father abandoned you.
But there is hope for you! There is a loving, perfect, awesome, amazing Father waiting with arms open wide. Just run into His arms and accept His love. He is waiting to be the father you need.