When The Father Doesn’t Seem So Good

My sister-in-law left this earth last Thursday evening at way too young of an age. She believed God for a miraculous healing until the very end. Yet God didn’t grant that healing.

Thirteen years ago, my sister watched her 5-month-old little girl slip into eternity, even while people from six of the seven continents prayed for the opposite. My two other sisters have suffered miscarriages, and I grieved the loss of children never implanted into my womb.

The children adopted had been afflicted with abuse, loss, and fetal alcohol effects early in their lives, forming coping mechanisms, behaviors, and a world view I could never seem to get a handle on.

A friend was raped. Others lost jobs and homes. Others battled mental illness, or had a spouse or children plagued with debilitating challenges.

The unexpected losses, incomprehensible tragedies, and unabated suffering leave us questioning God’s goodness. That’s when our faith needs bolstering from the truths found in Scripture.

Psalm 103:2-19 is chocked full of reminders of God’s goodness.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul,

And forget not all His benefits:

Who forgives all your iniquities,

Who heals all your diseases,

Who redeems your life from destruction,

Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.

He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.

The Lord is merciful and gracious,

Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.

For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him.

For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,

And His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant,

And to those who remember His commandments to do them.

The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.”

How is it we forget so easily? Why is it we think we have to earn His goodness? Thankfully, we have His own words to remind us when we forget.

And why should that make a difference for SAFE moms?

  • Because God delights in being a good Father to us. This truth is foundational to our perspective as daughters of The Father, and as mothers to wounded children.
  • Because our confidence in the goodness of God gets shaken from time to time – and often there’s not much space between those times.
  • Because God has the same heart for our children and has shown us how to love them in ways that will make the biggest difference.
  • And, because, when we are weary or hurting too much to love them, He still does.

Having God as our Father was never our own idea – it was God’s. He wants us. He seeks us. He died so that we could have this relationship with Him.

Good, Good Father

How good is Father God? How much does He love us?

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32, ESV).

©by Cheri Johnson June 2016

When a Father Can’t Rescue

The call came while lunching with friends and family. “The baby is in distress and they are going to do an emergency c-section.

Five hours away, the husband raced home, arriving in time to see his brand new baby girl swaddled into a transport incubator for a flight to a neonatal intensive care unit another three hours away. Prenatal concerns had indicated this scenario might play out.

Gratefully, no emergency surgeries were required. Sadly, the prognosis was Trisomy 18 – a genetic disorder. Little Nicole Grace probably wouldn’t live more than a few months at best. And she didn’t. At five-and-a-half months she went to live with her “Other Daddy.”

Sometimes a dad finds himself helpless and unable to rescue. Though our Heavenly Daddy can always rescue, sometimes He doesn’t.

What then?

That is when we have to redefine what it means to be rescued.

Rescue Redefined

God hasn’t promised to rescue us from pain and sorrow. In fact, He promised we would experience these. “… In the world you will have tribulation ...” (John 16:33, NKJV).

Shockingly, He commanded that we rejoice when we go through these times. “… count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4, NKJV).

Those things we wish to be rescued from are agents of growth, even when they bring a pain so deep we fear it will smother us. “… we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4, NIV).

Rescue doesn’t come from the outside; it comes from the inside. It’s our hearts that need rescuing – not our circumstances or our situations.

In Our Victorious Heart: a journal of Grace,* my sister and brother-in-law, Deanna and Jim Reynolds, share the story of Nicole Grace. They write openly about the emotional turmoil they endured, and encouragingly about the current of grace on which their Father God carried them through their journey.

I remember at Nicole’s funeral Jim sharing,

Though this circumstance did not turn out, in any way, as we had hoped, we still serve a good, loving God. … we refuse to hold Him hostage to this particular circumstance, this particular sliver of time. This circumstance does not change who He is. He is – and always will be – faithful, good, and loving. Nothing can change that. (p. 156).

As a SAFE** mom, I begged for God to rescue me over and over.

“God can’t you just restore those brain cells destroyed by fetal alcohol consumption?”

“Can’t you heal the broken parts so my child can trust and attach to me?”

“Holy Spirit, where were you? Out to lunch? Why didn’t you speak a little louder before I flew into a raging fit?”

“Why aren’t your fixing my child?”

“Why aren’t you fixing me?”

But God didn’t rescue me. He did sustain me. And He taught me. He plowed up the fallow ground of my soul, planted seeds of His purposes, and produced sweet fruit. It just took a long time. It always does.

And that fruit? I like to call them pearls.

* https://www.amazon.com/Our-Victorious-Heart-Jim-Reynolds-ebook/dp/B00GHYBG3I?ie=UTF8&btkr=1&ref_=dp-kindle-redirect

**Step/Adoptive/Foster/Every other nonbiological

Feel free to contact Jim or Deanna at prov2525@socket.net

©Cheri Johnson June 2016

 

5 Ways to Honor an Un-honorable Father

Some dads play hide-and-seek. Not the fun kind. The kind where a child looks for him, but he’s rarely home. A daughter asks for a bit of his time, but he’s usually too busy. A son begs him to play, but he’s too tired. Or the dad gives of his time, but his attention is elsewhere.

Some dads play hide-and-seek with their secret habits – attempting to disguise the wounds they’ve inflicted with pretty bandages called excuses and lies.

And, sadly, some dads have gone into permanent hiding, leaving children with unfulfilled needs and unanswered questions. In fact, one third of children in the United States live without a father in their home.* The impact is devastating, accounting for 63% of youth suicides, 90% of homeless and runaway children, 85% of behavior disorders, 80% of rapists, and 71% of high school dropouts.**

Why are “hidden” dads so common? I think if we try to discover a societal cause, we will find ourselves digging further and further back in history until we get to the beginning of time. I’m sure some cultures have less of this than others, but I doubt there are many. I’d like to propose another cause.

Since the Bible frequently refers to God as our Father, it’s no wonder Satan would seek to discredit that role through painful human experiences. If Satan can make the earthly father/child relationship miserable, then he can stir all sorts of doubt, pain, and resentment in the spiritual relationship, too. I’m not excusing human fathers’ poor choices. I am, though, reminding us of who our true enemy is and exposing his devious tactics.

Father’s Day is this Sunday. As SAFE moms, with children who suffer from the loss of their biological fathers, it is vital we model for them how to honor fathers – both in our honoring of their adoptive father (if there is one) and in honoring our own fathers.

But what if we have a “hidden” father, as well? How do we honor him?

5 Ways toHonor anUn-honorableFather

1. Recognize who the real enemy is and refuse to let him have the upper hand in your heart.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

2. Realize your dad operates out of his own wounds – quite possibly inflicted by his father.

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me'” (Romans 15:1-3, NIV).

3. Record a list of your dad’s strengths and honor those. Can’t think of any? Start with the fact that you carry his DNA. Could your good qualities have come from him? Surely there are some.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, NIV).

4. Request in prayer that God restore your dad to the man He created him to be. If he’s no longer alive, pray for God to restore a vision of that in your heart.

“So God created man in His own image” (Genesis 1:27)

5. Refuse to let Satan interfere in your relationship with Father God any longer. Let God be what He longs to be for you. After all, He is the Father to the fatherless.

Let God arise,
Let His enemies be scattered;
Let those also who hate Him flee before Him.
. . .
Sing to God, sing praises to His name;
Extol Him who rides on the clouds,
By His name YAH,
And rejoice before Him.
A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
Psalm 68:1, 4-5, NKJV

*http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2253421/1-3-US-children-live-father-according-census-number-parent-households-decreases-1-2-million.html

**https://thefatherlessgeneration.wordpress.com/statistics/
http://www.fathers.com/statistics-and-research/the-extent-of-fatherlessness/

©Cheri Johnson June 2016

I Want My Daddy

Drawn by a glow in his eyes, she climbs into his lap, leans into his breast, and rests in his embrace as he speaks tender words to her heart. She giggles as his whiskers tickle her ear. He takes her into their own make believe world through stories of frogs and bunnies and happy … sleepy … children. All too soon her eyelids droop and he gently places her between princess sheets and snuggles the blankets tight. Oh that her arms weren’t so limp, she would hug his neck close all through the night. But no need, she sleeps sweet in a deep-seated trust that he will always protect, always provide, always love. She’s Daddy’s little girl.

“Now that right there is a fairy tale!” you might be thinking. “What daddy spares the time for such a bedtime routine? What father relates to his daughter in such tender ways? Only a few – a very, very few.”

That is true.

But.

There is one Father who loves us the way the deepest recesses of our hearts long for. You know, that longing you shoved years ago into the farthest corner of your heart and drew a dark heavy curtain over, thinking that kind of love never exits? There is a Father who loves us like that.

Maybe you’re not into stories of frogs and bunnies. Maybe you are looking for a father to dance with, share a cup of coffee with, or run a marathon with. He is there. I promise.

He is there!

Have you ever heard the idea that there’s no better teacher than experience? That is true – except sometimes experience convinces us of untruths. We need to examine those lessons in light of Scripture.

The Bible is all about the Father those secret places of our hearts long for.

To begin with it teaches that we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). So if you wish you had a dad to play with, to sing with, or whose shoulders you could ride on, then there’s a good chance Father God longs to do those things with you as well – in one way or another.

Looking for a human to meet a need only Father can meet is idolatry and will always leave you dissatisfied.

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

(1 Corinthians 2:9, NKJV)

Through Jesus, we are privileged with a glimpse of what Father looks like. Jesus said,

If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.

(John 14:9)

If you want to know what Father is like, study Jesus. For example:

He laid down His life for us.
He spoke to the heart, not mere behavior.
He gave sight to the blind.
He made the lame walk.
He was not offended by the disgust of the lepers.
He fed the hungry.
He forgave.
He restored.
He defeated sin and death.
He’s still alive.
He reigns victorious.
He’s coming again.
And, He loved giving special attention to children.

So, if the little girl in you is longing for special time with her Daddy, I promise He is waiting to give you that time. You see, that sweet desire is a gift from Him.

Abba Father

He woos you and encourages you to draw back that curtain and shine the light on that hunger you’ve kept hidden so long. Cry out for Daddy and He will come running to scoop you up, hold you close, and whisper assurance into your ear.

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.

(Jeremiah 33:3, NKJV)