Fatherhood is a joyful and weighty responsibility that has an immense impact on the lives of children; those who grow up without fathers don’t benefit from the unique – albeit imperfect – care that fathers were designed by God to give, and are statistically more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems.
According to Census Bureau Data in 2011, one out of every three children in America does not live with their biological father. Fifty years ago, that number was closer to one in ten. Fatherhood.org comments that children who grow up without a father are twice as likely to use drugs, to have health and emotional problems, and to become criminals than those who grow up with either biological or adoptive fathers. Roughly 44% of children who grow up without a father are likely to become impoverished when they are older, and a large percentage of those that have been incarcerated are fatherless.
God created the role of fatherhood to image His relationship with His children – those who have welcomed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. In order to give mankind a glimpse of His perfect love, He made male and female distinct and gave them unique roles in child-rearing. Although the fall has corrupted fathers, mothers, and children alike, we can still strive to parent our children the way that God intended.
God the Father is our Creator, Protector, Provider, and Nurturer (see Deuteronomy 32:6, Psalm 103:13-14, and Psalm 91), among other things. He knows that we are finite beings, unable to care for ourselves without Him –He has compassion for us, because of His love and our helplessness, just as earthly fathers should have loving kindness for their children.
When we are tempted to fear or to be anxious about the future, we have forgotten God’s power and His desire to protect us. Psalm 91 says, “He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day … For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (English Standard Version, Psalm 91:4-5,11). God the Father protects His children with faithful tenacity. Though earthly fathers are limited in their ability to do so, God intends for them to watch over the well being of their families. This includes protection from spiritual danger as well as physical and emotional pain, and sometimes means safeguarding children from their own desires (see Proverbs 14:12).
Verses 14-16 continue - “Because he holds fast to Me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows My name. When he calls to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him My salvation.“ God rejoices in His relationship with us, made possible through the shed blood of Christ for our sins. God desires our love-filled praise and a heart that yearns to please Him, rather than joyless obedience (see Matthew 21:28-32). So ought earthly fathers focus on developing a loving relationship with their children, rather than one that is founded on respectful obedience.
Our heavenly Father provides for us, just as our earthly ones were meant to. In The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught His disciples to depend on God for their daily provision (see Matthew 6:9-13). “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?” Jesus asked in Luke 11:11 –“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Christ made the Father’s heart clear - He will provide for our needs in His infinite wisdom and love.
Fathers are also charged to be the spiritual leader of their households, and to instruct their children in the ways of the Lord (see Proverbs 22:6 and the qualification for elders in 1 Timothy 3:4-5). While mothers are invaluable in their own right, uniquely designed to nurture their children in different ways than her husband, the role of a father in the household is inimitably valuable.
Scripture for Fathers:
Psalm 103:13 - As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him.
1Thessalonians 2:11-12 - For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
Hebrews 12:7 - 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?
Be an Encouragement:
Colossians 3:21 - Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
Additional Resources for Fathers:
R.C. Sproul sermon on The Christian Man in the World: http://t.co/71SU0KoArJ
Desiring God’s Resource Library on Parenting: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/topic-index/parenting