Series: Thankfulness, By Rosie Moore.
This Sunday is Father’s day. For many people, it’s a day that brings up painful memories because of a less-than-perfect father. But as Christians, we should see our own earthly fathers through the lens of our great heavenly Father, who is the Father of the fatherless and protector of the widow (Ps 68:5). He is the Father who loved us so much that He gave up his firstborn Son, so that we too may be called his sons and daughters (1 John 3:1; 2 Cor 6:18). No wonder John exclaims,
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1) The Fatherhood of God is almost unbelievable!
Jesus died, so that we can live with our Father in an eternal home that is being prepared for us (John 3:16; 14:2). Jesus the Son reveals the Father to us and is the only way to know God as Father (Matt 11:27). And even now, Jesus is interceding for us at our Father’s throne, holding securely onto us, even when we can’t hold onto Him ourselves (Heb 7:25; Rom 8:34). Do we grasp the Father’s love for us, not just in our heads, but in our hearts too?
No fear when Father is near.
Why would we not give thanks to God for this wonderful privilege of adoption? It is the reason why we have no need to fear again: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba? Father!” (Rom 8:15). There’s no fear when our Father is near. And He is always near to us through His Spirit.
God is our personal, loving, ever approachable Father, who has our very best in mind. Unlike our human fathers, who are flawed just like us, our heavenly Father’s ways are always upright and just (Deut 32:4). He is always faithful and does no wrong (Deut 32:4). In the security of this perfect Father, we can thank our human fathers for all they have done in our lives, even if they haven’t been perfect. In the embrace of our perfect Father, we can overlook their wrongs and weaknesses as human fathers.
My own human father loves to read the final chapter of Packer’s book, Knowing God, over and over again. The chapter is about the unique Christian privilege of calling God our Father. And the reason that dad reads it so often is because he says that he’s apt to forget just how loved he is in Christ. Most of us are forgetful of this awesome reality. This is how Packer starts his chapter on the fatherhood of God,
“You sum up the whole of New Testament if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.
For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. ‘Father’ is the Christian name for God. Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption” (J.I. Packer, Knowing God)
Thanking our Father.
It’s only right that we direct our thanks at God the Father because:
- He is the source of our existence and loved us before we were conceived (Ps 139:16; Eph 1:4).
- He has adopted us into his family (Eph 1:5).
- He provides for us (Matt 7:11).
- He corrects and disciplines us (Hebrews 12:6).
- He is the potter and we are the clay in his hands (Isa 64:8).
- He loves us with an unfailing love (Ps 86:15; John 15:13).
Things haven’t gone well in our household this week. Covid has struck, including my mom and dad. My dad, who is usually sprightly and brimming with energy, is looking frail and tired. But human dads are sons of God too, and I hope this devotion will remind him, and all fathers, of how much their heavenly Father loves and cares for them. Jesus described the heavenly Father to whom every son and daughter must ultimately look for everything:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself (Matt 6:25-34)…
“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).
When we thank our Father for his good gifts; his faithfulness; his beautiful Creation; his generous provision; his loving correction and his amazing capacity to make all things work together for good, gratitude flushes the debris out of our eyes. We are able to see clearly how truly privileged we are. And when we give thanks to our Father, even for our sufferings, even in the midst of our sufferings, we are entrusting ourselves to our Father’s kindness and goodness. Hope and expectancy spring from knowing God as our caring Father.
Our Father never slumbers.
When we thank God as our Father, we are reminding ourselves that He is at work every minute of every day and night, fulfilling his sure and good purposes (John 5:17; Rom 8:28-31). Our Father will not let our feet slip, because he never slumbers nor sleeps (Ps 121:3).
And so, Christian thankfulness is so, so much more profound than the world’s idea of positive thinking or good manners. Thankfulness takes the believer’s focus off ourselves, our grievances, our weaknesses and fears, even our genuine suffering, and turns our hearts towards God our Father. It is like the north star that leads us back home.
Let’s thank our heavenly Father and our earthly fathers today.
Our Father in heaven,
Even as we address you as Father, we can hardly fathom what a great and awesome privilege that is. Today, we thank you for creating us, and for giving us the opportunity to live in a right relationship with you, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thank you, Father, for your undeserved grace, which covers us every day, even while we are sleeping. Today we trust in your promise to be with us in everything–in the present and the future, through trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, sickness, danger, in life and even in death. You’ve said that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, and we stand firm on that truth today.
Father, we pray for your blessing on each father and grandfather in our church family. Give them the means to provide for their families during these difficult times. Help them to love you before all else, so that they may love their wives and be faithful to them. Help them to bring up their children to love and serve you with whole hearts. Thank you for the human fathers you’ve given us and help us to remember to thank them for all they’ve done for us.
Heavenly Father, when fathers are discouraged, weak or tempted to sin, turn their hearts towards you, so they may have the strength they need to lead their families in your ways. May each father be convicted to read the Bible with their children and pray with them. Help Christian fathers to model your fatherly goodness, grace and discipline in their own homes and families. Do not allow them to exasperate or neglect their children, but give them the grace to be a blessing to their households.
Most importantly, remind us all daily of our real identity and destiny in Christ:
“I am a child of God, God is my Father; heaven is my home; every day is one day nearer. My Saviour is my brother; every Christian is my brother and sister too.” (Packer)