Some time ago my youngest son made an observation about how preachers typically react to the Mother’s Day and Father’s Day celebrations. He noted that on Mother’s Day we tend to praise mothers to the highest heavens. Then, on Father’s Day, we lower the boom on Dads. Upon reflection, his intentional hyperbole isn’t far wrong. We tend to preach flowery sermons about our Moms and then challenge Dads to get their acts together.
Lost somewhere in our collective consciousness is a subtle truth that most of us have overlooked or minimized. That is the great sacrifice that fathers make in order to fulfill their primary role as bread-winners for their families. Admittedly, some men so immerse themselves in their work that they neglect their responsibility to be the spiritual heads of their households. But, the truth is that most men do make a conscientious effort to help raise their children properly. The problem is that we have never asked fathers how they feel about having to leave their wife and their children day after day to go to work.
Do we care that many fathers miss out on some of the most cherished experiences as their children grow up? When baby first says, “Mama,” how many times is it when Dad is at work? When those first tottering steps are taken, it happens when it happens, but Dad may be on the job when it does. As the children grow older, we hear all about “soccer moms,” but in many cases it’s because Dad can’t take off work for weekday afternoon games or practice. Collectively we haven’t given this much thought, but Dads deserve some credit for willingly sacrificing these kinds of memories in order to provide for their loved ones.
Being a godly father is a heavy burden. However, it is a burden made bearable when a father devotes himself to the Lord and relies on his Father in heaven to help him bear it. When we look into the scriptures, we do not read many stories about great fathers, except in the parables of Jesus. In fact, some of our greatest heroes in the scriptures were less than ideal fathers. We may wonder why there aren’t many examples of great men who were also great fathers. Perhaps it is because the best example of a great father is our Father in heaven.
He is the one who promised through His servant Moses that He would never fail or forsake His people (Deut. 31:6, 8). So important was this promise that the writer of Hebrews quoted it for the benefit of Christians in Heb. 13:5. The promise of His abundant care and provision for His people is attested to by no less a person than Jesus Christ, who counseled the people to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, and all their physical needs would be added to them (Mt. 6:33).
Our Father in heaven is also the epitome of love for His people. We all know that he loved us so much He gave His only begotten Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins (Jn. 3:16). He demonstrated His love for us while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:8), making provision for our salvation before we even recognized the need for it. As much as our earthly fathers love us, there isn’t any comparison to the love of our Father in heaven.
His great example does not minimize or discount the efforts of our earthly fathers, though. As they go to work each day and do all they can to care for us physically and spiritually, they are emulating their Father in heaven. God bless godly fathers who sacrifice so much that we cherish in life in order to provide for us, and to show their sons how to be godly men. We don’t say it often enough, but, “Thanks, Dad! Thanks for all you do!”