“Yet, O Lord, you are our Father.”
To some of us, the word father is despicable. It was not a neighbor or a cousin who set out to ruin us, but it was our father, stepfather, or foster father. If that is the case, then calling God Father leaves a very bad taste in your mouth. The word can barely pass your lips when you begin the Lord’s Prayer. You gag on verses like the one above. The image of God being a loving father is smashed and horrible.
The idea of a father and the role He should play emanated from God. It was His idea. “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family [whom all fatherhood] in Heaven and on earth derives its name” (Ephesians 3:14–15). “Fatherness” seeped and splashed from God, the first Father, to all other fathers on earth. Our fathers were intended to be God’s visual aids, a physical lesson to teach us a spiritual truth.
When God says He will heal us, we were supposed to be able to believe Him because our fathers should have bent down, kissed our skinned knee, and hugged us. When God declares He is our defender and protector, we were supposed to be able to believe Him because our fathers should have beaten up the bully and made our little world safe. We were supposed to learn from our fathers the nature and character of God. That’s how God planned it. But some of our fathers succumbed to sin. They stole our innocence, our virginity, our childhood, our trust, our safety, and our identity. From them we inherited years of pain, suffering, depression, shame, anger, fear, and brokenness. Not a very happy legacy.
One counselor I know told her clients to call God something other than Father. Did they have a grandfather or uncle they loved, who was respectful and kind? Then, she counseled, called God “Uncle God” for a while.
I do not like this advice, and I don’t think God does, either. First, it leads too easily into making the human an idol or making God over into this person’s image. Too risky. Second, God does not identify Himself as a grandfather or an uncle, so we shouldn’t either. Third, there are too many other wonderful names we can call God while He is busy healing the father image in us. Those names are sprinkled in the pages of the Holy Bible, and they are legitimate names for us to call God because He identifies Himself as such.
Consider Jehovah-Jireh—God the Provider. Or Jehovah-Rapha—God the Healer. Or Jehovah-Shalom—God is Peace. Or El-Shaddai—Almighty God. There are many more, as any book on the names of God will teach you. Use some of these and learn to identify God’s great character and power through the names He has given us to use. Enjoy each facet of His personality that He shows you through His dear Word.
Please take some moments to write down what a good father is and what he does. Keep this list with you. As you read the Bible and learn more about God the Father, begin to fill in the passages of Scripture that match the items on your list. May you begin to understand that He is the definition of a good father.
As He heals you, the name Father will become more palatable, and someday it will even lose all its sting. Then you can embrace that elemental and vital relationship just as easily as Jesus did, and you won’t gag anymore.
This a page from the book When God Roared. Each page will be published, one per day, on this website. We pray that God uses it mightily in your life to swaddle you in His love and heal your precious heart.