By Erin Davis
In fact God is referred to as “the Father” or “our Father” over and over in the Bible (check out John 4:23, John 6:27, John 8:41, Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:3 and 2 Corinthians 1:2 for a sampling of such references). But if your experience with your earthly dad has been strained or painful, you might be asking “ just what kind of father is God?”
Let’s dig into the Word for some answers.
1. God is a caring father
Nahum 1:7 says, “the Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.”
1 Peter 5:7 says, “ cast all of your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
John 16: 27 says, “ No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.”
You may have reason to doubt your earthly father’s love for you. And even if your dad is good, he isn’t perfect and as a result he won’t love you perfectly. But you can trust God ‘s love for you.
Choosing to believe this one truth can radically transform your life. There will be seasons in each of our lives when it seems like no one cares. But God does care. In Jeremiah 31:3 the Lord declares that his love for you is “everlasting.” That means it will endure through all time. He truly is the source of unconditional love.
2. God is a consistent father.
Some of you may feel like your dad’s behavior is hard to predict. In fact, several of you have told us something like “I never know what to expect from my dad. One day he’s loving and attentive, the next day he’s cranky and distant.” It seems that teenage girls aren’t the only ones subject to mood swings!
But God is not moody. Hebrews 13:8 tells us that He is the same “yesterday, today and forever.”
James 1:17 says, “ Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
Malachi 3:6a says, “ I the Lord do not change.”
I am a parent. I try to be consistent, but I make mistakes. There are days when I am tired and irritable. And there are days when I find it easier to be gracious and loving. I am sure that the same is true for your parents. But our Heavenly Father is not fazed by tiredness or circumstances. He does not ask one thing of you one moment and something entirely different in the next. He loves you. That love does not change.
3. God is a giving father
He is willing and able to provide all that we need.
Matthew 6:31-33 says, “ So do not worry saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 7: 9-11 says, “ Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 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!”
I cannot communicate to you how radically it has changed my life to realize that God is good. That sounds simple right? But there is power in knowing that God is not waiting for an opportunity to zap me or punish me. He is looking for opportunities to love me and show compassion toward me and his provisions are enough to take care of my needs.
4. God is a father who disciplines
Groan! We don’t like discipline do we? I can’t say that I’ve ever been thrilled about the discipline enforced by my earthly dad and I can’t claim to love the Lord’s discipline either. But there is wisdom in realizing that discipline is for our good (as much as I hate to admit it!).
Deuteronomy 8:5 says, “ know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.”
Job 5:17 says, “ blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.”
Proverbs 3:11-12 says, “ My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”
Proverbs 6: 23 says, “ For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life.”
Hebrews 12: 7-11 says, “ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they though best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and pace for those who have been trained by it.”
Because God is a good father, he does not give us the freedom to do whatever we want. His guidelines for our lives are for our good and protection. When necessary, He disciplines us out of love.
No matter what your experience with your earthly dad has been, you can trust that God is a good Father. In Lies, Dannah writes, “ God is a father, but He is not like any many you have ever known. The wisest, kindest earthly father is only a pale reflection of our heavenly Father. The God of the Bible is infinitely more wonderful and pure and loving than even the most wonderful father. God our Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48) and unchanging (James 1:17). Our earthly fathers cannot be those things (Matthew 7:11). Regardless of how you may think or feel, God is a good Father who dearly loves His children—including you. He can be trusted.”