When Father’s Day hurts

June 19, 2015

Holidays are intended to be special times. They unite family and rekindle shared memories. They delight and bring joy. They give us reason to push pause on the everyday and celebrate a common joy. But for some, holidays are hard. Instead of joy, holidays only bring up painful memories. They are a glaring reminder of loneliness and heartache. They are a day to get through and endure rather than celebrate.

Father’s Day is a holiday that can be hard. For some, it brings grief because their father is no longer alive to celebrate. For another, it’s only a reminder of the neglect or abuse experienced at the hand of a father. Father’s Day can also be painful for the one who never even knew their father. The day only serves to mock the loss.

If you are one of those who cringes at the sight of the grocery store’s card aisle filled with happy Father’s Day wishes, I want to encourage you that this is a day you can celebrate. You don’t have to avoid it or begrudge it. Why? Because you have a Father in Heaven. For all who have been hurt, disappointed, neglected or ignored by an earthly father, your heavenly Father stands there as the perfect father—the one you always wanted and have always needed. Here are four truths about your Heavenly Father:

  1. He has chosen you to be his own: If you are in Christ, know that your Father has loved you before time began. “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Eph. 1:4-6). He loved you and knew you before you ever took your first breath (Psalm 139). Through Christ’s work on the cross on your behalf, he redeemed you and made you his own. You are now part of his forever family. As his child, you are also his heir (Gal. 4:7). You have a glorious inheritance to enjoy—a foretaste now and its fullness in eternity (Eph. 1:14, 1 Pet. 1:4).
  2. He will never leave you: If your human father left you, you can know that your Heavenly Father never will. He will never turn his back on you. In fact, because he turned his back on his Son and poured out the wrath you deserved upon him, there is no more wrath left for you. He will never reject, forsake or deny you (Heb. 13:5). He is always with you (Isa. 41:10).
  3. His love for you is perfect: While your human father may have failed you and let you down, God never does and never will. While your father may have said and done hurtful things, God never will. While your earthly father can never love you perfectly, your Heavenly Father’s love for you is perfect and complete. That’s because it is part of his nature; he is a God of love (1 John 4:8). “The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Ps. 145:8). His love for you is so great; he loves you as much as he loves the Son (John 17:23).
  4. He knows exactly what you need: Human fathers often fail to give their children what they need.  Your father may have failed to teach you what you needed to learn. His discipline may have been too harsh or non-existent, but your Father in Heaven knows just what you need, and he never fails to provide it for you (Matt. 6:25-34). Everything he does is for your ultimate good (Rom. 8:28). Any discipline he gives is out of love and for your growth in holiness (Heb. 12:10).

This Father’s Day, when everyone you know is making plans to meet with their fathers, look to your Father in Heaven, and celebrate his great love for you in Christ. Relish what it means to be his child. Dwell on all the ways he has provided for you. Give him thanks and honor him for being the perfect Father who has always loved you and will never leave you.

Christina Fox

Christina Fox is a counselor, writer, retreat speaker, and author of several books including A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope through the Psalms of Lament, A Holy Fear, and Tell God How You Feel.  Read More