A lady approached me one day and told me point-blank about the pain she feels every time the church celebrates Mothers’ Day. She would even find ways to avoid attending on that particular Sunday because she was childless, and even though every attempt was made to include all the women of the church on those days, she still felt that ache in her soul.
I suspect that June’s focus on fatherhood might also stir up some difficult notions for some of our readers. I’m not thinking so much about men who are dealing with the heartache of childlessness. My thoughts are with those who are fatherless. Some of you reading this article might never have known what it’s like to grow up in a family where dad was a constant fixture. Some might have been raised in a home where dad was there all right, but deep down you wished he hadn’t been. Perhaps he was cruel; perhaps he was constantly angry or emotionally invisible. Perhaps he hurt you or your family so badly that you have scrubbed your memory clean of him – you’re emotionally an orphan.
I’m not suggesting that taking a day to give credit where credit is due is a bad thing. I join wholeheartedly with Chuck in encouraging us all to think upon the good things and to express thanks to dads for a job well-done. And I am truly moved by Scott’s tender tribute to his own father. But I know that reading them might be a bittersweet experience for some of us. These words are for the fatherless. You are at the very core of God’s compassion.
When life deals out disappointment and when people let you down, it’s supposed to be dad that you can turn to for a listening ear and a little encouragement. Someone strong who assures you that even if the rest of the world doesn’t see the injustice – he does…
God is there when no-one else is:
But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
you have been the helper of the fatherless.
When it seems as though there is nowhere else to turn, when you’re out of options, when you’ve tried everything and used up all your excuses and burned all your bridges…God stands ready and willing to count you as family:
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.
When the world seems alien and hostile, and the deafening loneliness of life in the twenty-first century crashes in on you; when time with fair-weather friends feels more like solitary confinement, when there simply is no warm family home to run back to…
God has a place of refuge for you:
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.
When you find yourself in a new job, or a new town; when you feel a bit lost and a bit low; when you could really use a kind word from someone who understands…
God is there, and those who are wise will seek Him out:
The Lord watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
When you belong to God, you are never an orphan, you are never alone, you are never abandoned. He isn’t called God the Father for nothing!