Needing the Love of a Father
Fatherlessness has a huge impact on our world. Has it impacted you? God is a loving father and he offers us acceptance and belonging.
5 Minute Read
By Galina Hitching
Why is God a father? Does it matter to our daily lives and to world missions? God not only says he is a father, but that he is a good father. Coming to know this loving heavenly father has the power to transform our lives.
Our good father is what we offer to the nations as we labor in the Great Commission. Because the reality is this: how we relate to God, ourselves and others is closely tied to our experiences with our earthly father. Our understanding of God as father can only be transformed as we replace the lies from our past with the truth of who God really is.
Does Fatherlessness Matter?
It’s hard to deny the impact of fatherlessness on children across America. I’m always surprised when people diminish the importance of fathers. That’s not just because I grew up without a dad, but because the hard data shows a staggering reality that can’t be explained away.
Let me preface this data by asserting the importance of fathers in no way negates the importance of mothers. I was raised by a strong woman who gave me the foundation I needed to survive. Yet, no matter how much a mother loves, supports, provides and teaches, she cannot fill the role of the father. I know many disagree with me here, and I’m not going to get into a discussion on gender roles other than to say one thing. God made both male and female in his image.
Data on Fatherlessness
The negative impact on a child is not just relegated to the absence of a father. Fatherlessness can include the lack of a loving relationship with a father who is emotionally available. Many children are growing up in homes with abusive fathers; this is as much an experience of fatherlessness as for the child who grows up without a father.
Fatherlessness has a direct impact on a lot of things in our society today. The National Center for Fathering reports the following:
- 71% of all adolescent substance abusers come from a fatherless home
- 70% of teen pregnancies happen in fatherless homes
- 80% of adolescents in psychiatric hospitals come from fatherless homes
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children are fatherless
- 9 times more likely to drop out of school coming from a fatherless home
- Fatherless children are two times more likely to commit suicide
- 9 times more likely to be raped or sexually abused in a home without a biological father
These statistics mainly highlight the challenges experienced by fatherless children and young adults. Unless emotional healing takes place, many of these problems can continue into adulthood.
Fatherlessness in Asia
Finding data in English about fatherlessness in Asia is a bit trickier. This may be in part to cultural differences in views surrounding children and the family unit. Yet regardless of culture, the impact of fatherlessness is vast.
In East Asia, fatherlessness can be a result of low mortality where parents die while children are young, immigrant work situations (where children often become completely parentless), and high divorce rates in countries like China.
Isn’t Fathering a Cultural Construct?
As believers, regardless of our ethnic background, we should model true fatherhood. This isn’t about culture or what generation we belong to. This is about our calling to model the father heart of God.
Part of that calling is to abandon ourselves to know him as our father. It was the father heart of God that broke down my walls and transferred me to the kingdom of light. It was the father heart of God that enabled me to take the first and most important step in healing from the father wound: the step of forgiveness.
If we live our lives in Christian ministry (or in daily life) striving for God’s acceptance and atoning for our sins with good works, we won’t experience him as our father. Our Father God accepts us as we are, but gently shows us how to become more like him. The Heavenly Father is not angry. He is good, and gentle, but he has boundaries and asks for our obedience.
As we engage in missions, we not only have the hope of the gospel and the person of Christ. We have our Father God. It is the heavenly Father who heals the wounds from our earthly fathers. And may I just say, we all have wounds from our fathers. No dad is perfect except our Abba Daddy.
How the Father Changes Everything
- He provides for us.
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11, NIV)
- We belong.
“And, I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:18, NIV)
- We are accepted.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1a, NIV)
- He sets us free from the past.
“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, `Abba, Father.’” (Romans 8:15)
- He gives us identity.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
No matter who we are, we all share one thing in common. We all need the heavenly father.
Lord Jesus, you came to show us the father. We ask you to deepen our understanding of who the heavenly father is. Touch the wounded places of our hearts and help us to in turn love and pray for the fatherless around the world. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Galina Hitching is a writer, artist, and wellness geek. She learned more from growing up around missions and traveling as an adult non-profit worker than she did getting her degree in Communication. Midway, Galina took a detour from her career by working as a Serve Asia volunteer. Today, she is using her four years’ experience in marketing and communication for the Great Commission.