As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:13-14

After one of my speaking engagements a man came up to me to talk. He was, perhaps in his mid sixties. He told me that he had been a Christ-follower for as long as he could remember but he had always struggled with his salvation.

As we talked more he told me that during my session he’d realized that his issue wasn’t really so much about his salvation as it was the concept of a loving forgiving God as ‘Father God.’ When he was growing up his father was non-existent for the most part and when he was around he was angry, demanding, unforgiving and, at times, abusive physically. He came to the realization that God wasn’t like any earthly father he’d ever known. God did love him. God was forgiving. God wasn’t harsh or abusive.

I left the conversation wondering how many of the rest of us struggle with what it means to have God as our Father. Personally, I’m fortunate to have an earthly father who loves God and his children. He wasn’t perfect, but we kids knew he loved us. I have no problem seeing, in my father, what a compassionate, forgiving and loving God we have.

Many of us don’t have that luxury. Earthly fathers fail us. Some are abusive emotionally, physically or even sexually. Some are so caught up in making a living and providing physically for us that they fail at their most important job: building relationships. Some are absent completely, having checked out emotionally or physically from our lives. The demise of the family also hinders our view of father hood. More than half of our children are being influenced by two or more male figures that could be called ‘dad’, such as step-dads and foster dads.

Then God comes along to say he is a compassionate father? Two terms put together that describes someone we can’t relate to. We see compassion as passion and we see fathers as someone to be feared and avoided!

If you are struggling with your view of God as Father then it’s time to rethink what a ‘father’ is supposed to be.. Your Heavenly Father, Lord of all creation, doesn’t love you as earthly fathers may. He knows you are frail. He knows you will struggle and fail miserably at times. He won’t demand that you do things that will harm you or harm others.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be struggles in your life for a compassionate father knows that struggle is required to gain strength. When you are learning to ride a bike he’ll allow you to fall, but he’s there to clean up the scraped knees and help you get back on again.

Don’t allow the failures of earthly fathers to hinder your view of a loving God who will stand by you in the good times and the bad. You may not always understand your Heavenly Father, but he always understands you. Rules aren’t the important thing to him, relationship is! He gave us a picture of himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

PRAYER: Father God. I confess to you that the idea of you being a father isn’t particularly comforting to me. My father here on earth didn’t leave me with a very good feeling about fathers. I ask that you would show me what a truly compassionate father is. Help me to learn to trust you and grow in relationship with you as I learn to walk with Jesus. In your name I pray, Amen.