God as Our Good Father
By: Dr. Dillon Burroughs
When we think of our earthly fathers, what emotions come to mind? For some, our first thoughts are love or kindness. For others, our first emotion is absence. Still others sense pain, whether from a broken or abusive relationship with the one man on earth who should care the most about our lives.
These emotions often transfer toward our relationship with God. Even for those who believe in Jesus as Savior, we struggle to view God as a good Father. He may be, “Our Father who art in heaven,” but that does little to help us deepen our walk with our Creator.
How can we view God as a “good” Father? One place to start is in the emotions shared by the writers of the Psalms. On three specific occasions, the lyrics of their songs address God from the perspective of a father, the right kind of nurturing parent who cares for his children and acts accordingly.
First, God serves as a Father to those without a loving father: “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation” (Psalm 68:5). Scripture often notes the importance of caring for fatherless children and widows. God demonstrates perfect love in these areas by being the Father we have always longed for in our lives.
Even the best father will let us down sometimes, but God’s love never fails. For those who have grown up without a father, God is the only one who can adequately satisfy our desire for love. No other person can provide the care God can in the role of a loving Father.
Second, God offers the perfect love desired from a father: “He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation’” (Psalm 89:26). In this context, the writer notes that David will have a special relationship with God that includes the loving care of a father to a firstborn son.
Did your experience of intimacy or closeness with your own father leave you distrustful of other relationships? Has your past relationship with your own dad led you toward skepticism and pain? God can handle your questions and doubts with loving arms and unconditional love. He does not leave us, neglect us, or mistreat us. He is the Father we have sought and have never found in another relationship. We can call him our Father or our Dad and enjoy his love without fear. It may take time on our part, yet he is our Rock who will never leave our side.
Third, God is filled with the compassion of a loving father: “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13). Two important observations can be found in these words. A father should show compassion to his child. Those who do so follow the example of the compassion God offers. In addition, the “fear” mentioned in this verse has to do with respect or honor. The ideal father-child relationship involves compassion from father to his child that leads to great respect from a child to a father.
Our God is a Father to those without a loving father. He offers unconditional love to his children. As Father, he has great compassion for our every need. As we grow in our relationship with God, we discover why God is called “Father.” He created us, he cares for us, he has compassion on us, and he desires to stay connected with us. We need not fear his rejection; we need only to experience his love.
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Dr. Dillon Burroughs
Dillon Burroughs serves as senior writer at The John Ankerberg Show and has written nearly 40 books on issues of faith and culture. He is also an associate editor for The Apologetics Bible for Students and has contributed to many works on apologetics and Christian worldview. Dillon is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and holds a PhD in Leadership from Piedmont International University. He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his wife, Deborah, and their three children.