God as Father in the Absence of an Earthly Dad

By: Christieanna Apon

The idea of God being a Father is one that I’ve held close for all but six years of my life. I can’t say it was my choice or truthfully even one that I would have chosen on my own, but I can say that it has been the best gift throughout the years. The fact is that God is Father before anything else. Fatherhood has been His nature from before time began and He knows oh too well the pain of being a father and watching your child go through suffering. It is his natural role to lead Christ followers through life as children of God.

Most Christians know God as Father alongside of their earthly dad. For some it might not feel as personal or  tangible as a physical dad, but for me it felt very different. It was a learning process to experience Christ in this way. Knowing God’s role as father always felt and read differently to me growing up. My story is that He tangibly stepped into that position at a very young age due to my dad committing suicide. Instead of trying to figure out what having two dads looked like; earthly and spiritual, the only one I knew from age six was that of God the Father. It feels a lot more real when you don’t have another option and He is the only father you learn to know. Many times relating to God as father was more real than to an earthly father.

The painful absence of earthly dad…

However, I won’t lie and say it’s always okay to not have a physical dad because it’s not. Recently I found myself crying as I watched a father praise and cheer on his kids (very over-the-top and enthusiastically I might add) because they had finished all of their dinner. This triggered many emotions inside of me causing me to weep. There are days when I want to tangibly hear my dad say, “I’m so proud of you!”

The harsh truth is that when you don’t have an earthly father there is no one like a dad to run to when you’re crying over life’s valleys and dark times. There’s no one to cheer you on when you accomplish something you’ve worked very hard for as you imagine your dad would. His voice isn’t there to give you advice when you like a guy or teach you how to practical stuff like changing a tire. It always feels like something is missing without my dad because there is. Father-child relationships are a special gift from Lord. His absence leaves a void for sure but one the Lord is gracious to fill using it to mold and shape us around Himself.

The perfect presence of Heavenly Father…

During the times I wish I had an earthly father, the lessons and goodness from the Lord always surpass that longing. I know I am not made for this earth anyways, so having to bring everything to Him and Him alone is a constant reminder that I am just passing through this world. More than anything I know my Father is for me and not against me. I know He is with me through everything I encounter, leading me one step at a time. I know that my Father is attentive to all the details in my life and will continue to show me that. He is a gracious and loving father, one that holds His arms open ready to welcome me home even after I’ve chosen to sin again. He has provided for me day after day in ways that an earthly father would not have the capacity for. He has covered me in His shadow, protecting me from all of Satan’s attacks, serving as a refuge and safe place as you see in Psalm 91. I have experienced joy and security rooted in who He is as Father–One who will never leave me. He continues to love me with unconditional love.

God as my Father has shaped me into who I am today. He will do that for others across the globe who look to Him as Father. Relating to God as Father is not a simple task. Many fatherless children experience abusive homes, absent dads, no dad at all, and a thousand other painful realities the enemy uses to taint the beautiful image of God as a Father. However, I know with everything inside of me that God is a good good Father. He is outside of our realm when it comes to emotions and the ability to love because He is perfect and that holds a lot of weight. It holds a weight because it asks you to let down your guard and hold your life up to Him with surrendered hands, allowing Him to love you and show you Himself in a way you won’t understand right away. But it’s in that surrender we can fully claim and accept Christ in the role He desires in our lives as Father. This brings healing and simultaneous joy that is deeper than any other created being ever could provide. He is the most gracious, forgiving, and loving Father anxiously waiting for you to accept that and walk in it. Don’t be afraid, it’s worth it all.