Father’s Day can be tricky. I have many sweet beautiful friends who were utterly failed by their fathers. These friends struggle to know their heavenly Father. It’s natural to cast onto our heavenly Father the characteristics of our fallen earthly fathers. How many sisters in Christ struggled to get their dad’s attention? How many were completely abandoned by their fathers? Many had fathers who held them to impossible standards, whose affirmation had to be earned, and who were quick with criticism that cut their daughters to the bone. And how many have struggled not to believe those same things of God in heaven?!
I did not have that type of dad. I hesitate to post on my dad here on Father’s Day, because I am sensitive to the pain that others feel around such a day. I hope that my words about my dad will be an encouragement to all of us, whether you had a dad like this or not, because the best characteristics of my dad are the ones that are true for all of us of our heavenly Father. You too have a Dad like this, better actually, though you haven’t yet gotten to physically sit in His lap.
I have the best kind of dad – the kind that isn’t perfect, but when the rubber meets the road, you know he is there for you. My dad taught me life lessons, particularly the importance of hard work and frugality. He lost his family farm in his early twenties, which was then turned into the city dump. That kind of thing will change you. He started with nothing, but he worked his way up until he found a way to provide for his family.
Daddy taught me to be frugal. I don’t know how good a job I’ve done with this as an adult, but I’ve tried to be wise with my money. Daddy also gave his daughters opportunities he never had. He paid every last tuition payment I had for college. At the time, I took it completely for granted. But at the end of my college years, I slipped up and showed my lack of appreciation. He’s not a yeller, but I figured out quickly that he didn’t pay for my college to coddle a spoiled rich girl. We were not rich, but I was probably a little spoiled. He did it because he, despite his desire to learn, had to drop out of college due to finances. It took years of him paying for my private education before it dawned on me the sacrifice he made to do so and the reasons he did it.
Daddy wanted me to have opportunities he never had, but sometimes that came at a cost. I remember telling him that I was going to South Korea to teach in an international Christian school as soon as I finished working in a Christian camp away from home all summer. He got very quiet, but he never pressed me against that decision, and I always felt supported by him and my mom while I was away.
Once, I was in a stressful personal situation, and my dad offered to fly out to help me (from South Carolina to Seattle). I told him I thought I’d be OK, but I’d let him know. However, by the end of the day, it was clear I needed his help. I emailed my mom from Seattle long after they had gone to bed. Could Daddy come after all? I was hoping he might be able to find a reasonable ticket that would get him there the following week. But when I woke up the next morning, he had a ticket that put him into Seattle that night. The love he and my mom showed me as they dropped everything to make that happen still moves me to tears.
Here’s what I know about my dad. He loves me. He is for me. He will do whatever he can do to help me. He’s not going to buy me frivolous things, but if I need an important bill paid and can’t do it myself, he’s there. Most of all, he hurts when I hurt. Biblically, it’s called compassion – he suffers when I suffer. And that has helped me to understand my Father in heaven in meaningful ways.
I never doubted that God would provide for me.
I never doubted that God loved me.
I never doubted that God wanted my best.
I never doubted that God was FOR me.
Sister in Christ, your own dad may not be like that at all. But your heavenly Father is! He has compassion for you, which means literally that He suffers with you. He is FOR you.
Psalm 103:13As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.