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Father Issues (1st of 3)

Let’s see if we can help one another through an issue that seems to be pretty common. Feel free to disagree with me. We’ll learn more if we talk to one another. Here’s a start on what I’ve been thinking about a problem that has some serious implications on our ability to pray and trust God.

In talking to others lately, I’ve concluded that, some of us have a hard time relating to God the Father. We sing to the Son, pray to the Son, and ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” But when Jesus talks about His Father, He touches issues that may be affecting us more than we realize.

Maybe our problem is that His Father doesn’t answer our prayers as we want Him to. Or we think of Him in terms of the human fathers we have known. Many of us have never even heard our biological father say, “I love you.” Some have inherited a legacy of abandonment, addiction, and even abuse.

Even the best of fathers fail us in life and leave us in death. In one way or another, all of us have been affected by what the Bible calls “the sins of the fathers.”

Sins of the Fathers

The same Bible that tells us to honor our fathers also documents the moral failures of patriarchs like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon.

Even the New Testament acknowledges the tendency of fathers to provoke their children to anger (Ephesians 6:4). Another passage makes a distinction between the fathers who discipline us as they see best and the Father in heaven who always knows how to correct us for our own good (Hebrews 12:9-10).

In a day when so many of us long for a return to family values, it is disappointing to discover that a good dad is hard to find in the Bible.

So now, what are you thinking?

Don’t feel limited by the following. But here are some questions I’d like to hear some comments on:

Do you think I’m overstating the problem?

Do you agree that even the best of human fathers ends up letting us down?

What do you make of the fact that a model dad is hard to find in the Bible?

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19 Responses to “Father Issues (1st of 3)”

  1. ppostma1 says:

    I believe the fact that there are few model fathers in the bible is a reminder that we have only one perfect father. We can’t expect that from anyone else.

  2. martdehaan says:

    I’ve found though that people who believe God is the only perfect Father may still have a hard time feeling loved and accepted by Him.

  3. westhorp says:

    In my opinion and from my personal experience, you are not overstating the problem. I’m sixty-one years old meaning that I’m a member of the first class of babyboomers.

    My dad deserted my mom and me in 1948, never came back, never called,never wrote. I found him when I was in my 20s and he completely disowned me.

    For much of my life, I had trouble just saying the word “dad” or “father.” I was always looking for some older guy to affirm me.

    That attitude changed gradually through the grace of God. When my wife became pregnant for the first time, I wanted to be a good dad even though I never had one.

    When I was at Promise Keepers once they sang the song, He Knows My Name. There’s a verse, I Have A Father. It was like taking an old woodburner and using it on my heart. I had real trouble with the words.

    Those words dogged me until the veil of my understanding lifted. I started to see the Father for who he is.

    The church was never a help in this. It was pure grace.

    The issues you are raising are vital and they touch the core being of a lot of people.



  4. borabora77 says:

    We grew up very poor and my parents were divorced. I rarely saw my father as he was blind and travel limited. However, he was my father and I didn’t love him any less than my own children love me – and I’m a very hands on dad with 4 children. I have made mistakes, just like my father – not the same mistakes but still mistakes. There are great father examples in the Bible – Joseph’s father (Joseph and his beautiful coat was the first book I was ever given by a 3rd grade teacher), the father of the Prodigal Son, Joseph, the Father of Jesus. All of these fathers who did their best for their families in the midst of difficulties. They simply did the best they could with what they were given. God is the perfect father, but the love that many of us received from our fathers and that we give to our families, while imperfect, is still a portion of the same fatherly love that we feel with God. I like to think of my father, who passed away almost 20 years ago, as being restored in heaven to the father he wished that he had been. At the end of his life I had the opportunity to come to know him, in visits to his apartment and long talks over coffee, as a man who had every good intention for his family but regretfully made some mistakes that did not allow him to be a better father. But when he died I don’t know that there was not a better man than my dad. While completely blind and in deteriorating health due to living a very hard life, he came to know God and God’s love and loved his family dearly. I believe that God gives us a glimpse of Himself in our imperfect fathers. If you’ve experienced only a small portion of this with your dad on earth, imagine what it is like being in the presence of the perfect Father.

    I love you God, and I love you dad!

  5. martdehaan says:

    I appreciate so much your taking the time to tell your stories!

  6. timbear says:

    I’m not a father but being a father is not easy and it takes a lot more courage than it may seem biologically. I think the problem is certainly not overstated.

    There were quite a number of decisions that my dad made for me when I was growing up and not all of them turned out to be what we would consider “the most desirable outcomes”. He certainly had flaws like the patriachs, but he did what he saw as the best possible for me. I think there doesn’t exist a model father on earth, as the Bible can rightly testify, because we are all, well, imperfect. We have all fallen short of God’s glory. It is important to bear these in mind when any such attempt at finding a “model” is pursued.

  7. dredwar says:

    I have found that there are indeed many good father/father figures. The fact that there are soo many more that fall short “overshadow” the good.

    I was blessed with a father that didn’t show or verbalize love, but he always provided for us, was always there, and always taught us to do things “the right way.” After I became a father, I began to understand and appreciate the way he “loved” us.

    As a father, I make sure I tell my kids “I love you” often. The I do my best to show it in my actions. I also encourage my children to discover the true Father of the bible, who will never “fall short” as I often do!

  8. chubei says:


    I think this is a critical topic. God is great! He knows that we are only human beings with limited knowledge and bad experience with our biological fathers prohibits us from experience His love fully!

    Marriage breakdown is so common now and people tend to take marriage more lightly. Rate of separation, divorce etc. is only on the rise and has been rishing in different pace in different countries. So, perhaps this is the time for us Christian to reflect our relationship with our earthly fathers and how these views affect us on how much we are willing to involve in the loving relationship of God?

    (From Hong Kong)

  9. martdehaan says:

    I think you are right. To know that we are loved and provided for by a Father who can be so much more than any earthly dad is so important. It has so many implications for how we relate to one another.

  10. 4 HIM 2 says:


  11. searching for truth says:

    I don’t really know much about God and have only recently begun to believe in Jesus, though I’ve been searching and longing for “something” for many years. Though I found it difficult to trust Jesus, I find it nearly impossible to think of God as a father. The whole idea of God wanting to be a father is terrifying to me. I don’t recall ever hearing my father tell me he loved me. He loved nothing. No amount of attempting to earn his love mattered and only seemed to make him despise us more. I grew to believe that I was simply unlovable, especially by God, and I learned early on that a father was one to be feared greatly.

    Now I learn that God wants to be my father (heavenly father), and it makes me want to run, far and fast.

    I’ve heard that man is created in the image of God. If this is true, am I not wise to fear him as well, and keep my distance?

    I don’t really know what’s in the bible for the most part, but do find it interesting that you wouldn’t be able to find a “model father” in it. If God wants people to think of him as a father, wouldn’t it stand to reason that he’d plunk someone in there to show what type of father he is? Thereby making it just a little easier to trust that he would be a good one?

  12. Mart De Haan says:

    Searching for truth, thank you for your honesty. I hope you will read the next two posts (number 2 and 3 of this series on Father issues). This is a tough issue for so many. Yet if you will give Jesus a chance, he will show that he came to reveal a completely different kind of Father than too many of us have known.

  13. searching for truth says:

    Ok, I’ll read them and try to do so with an open mind.

  14. mpoteet says:

    In answer to your question: Yes, even the most human father lets us down. Model dad hard to find in the Bible? No surprise. God is a tough act to follow, and the ultimate Father, being the father of Jesus.

  15. Dena says:

    What a great topic! My earthly father abused me for over eight years as a child – physically, mentally, spiritually and sexually. I carried “guilt” and fear around for many, many years. He was a very “religious” man. I was terrified of him and it finally got the better of me when I was married and in my late 20s. Thanks to my dear hubby, I began a better life of acceptance, but still all was not right – I was very uncomfortable being around my father and tried desperately to please him and make him proud of me – he was still in control. I never confronted my father with this and it was all swept under the rug. Then, in my late 40s God called me and I accepted Jesus as my Saviour and Redeemer. Through His molding and love for me as my Heavenly father, I was finally able to asked God to love my earthly father for me and to forgive him. I also asked God to make me honor my earthly father because I couldn’t do it myself. To my great surprise, one day when I was visiting my father, I looked him straight into his eyes, told him I loved him in spite of it all, and gave him a big hug. My father didn’t know how to handle this reaction and it led to him disowning me. He died without any reconciliation. BUT, it took me away from this constant torture and control and my mind and spirit was made free – I give God all the glory and praise and thank Him for being my true Father.

  16. kellybellygolf says:

    There is one excellent example of a father in the bible – God himself. As a parent of 2 adult children, the trials and tribulations my wife and I have experienced in helping our children get to this point in their lives are well beyond anything we ever anticipated. The saving grace for me has been the realization that the standard for me in dealing with my children is the same standard that God the Father set for me – perfect love, perfect forgiveness, perfect sacrifice, and perfect example. And even though I can never come close to those standards, the knowledge of how I must look through God’s eyes with my sin, failures and imperfections is a great lens through which to view my children – forgiven. My own father was a very poor example of fatherhood in many ways – married 4 times, 9 children, very poor morals. And yet, he did leave a great legacy in one sense – he too loved the Lord and shared a lot of love with his children. Since there are no perfect or even “super” fathers in the bible, then the trick must be the focus – if we look for perfect human fathers, we will always be lacking. However, if we instead look to the Father, we have the perfect Father, and the perfect example to model our lives by.

  17. Abigail2 says:

    Thank you for this topic.
    My Father was absent in the sense he did not support us financially, My Mom took care of that, He was absent as to not being involved in my life.He didn’t work, didn’t care and used vulgar language in front of me and allowed his horse trading friends to do so also.
    I cannot even describe his personality as he didn’t seem to have one, although others outside the family thought he was great even though he never fed or clothed his family. My Mother stayed married to him for 18 years and divorced him when I was 11.For some reason I felt very sorry for him and he would play on my sympathy.He would some to me with his ‘woe is me’ stories.Even on into my married years. He was never concerned for who I dated, or who I married. So after saying all this, I had a terrible time relating to God as Father.As you said, Jesus I could pray too, talk about and lnow I was loved by him but not God the Father.
    I, since my early years as a Christian was counseled and helped with that. Dr Victor Matthews was a ‘stream in the desert’ for me. He helped me through that and other issues. I miss him.

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