What Do You Do When The Dad is Missing

So I got a question from my daughter just last week. She was having some time with a really close friend of hers and her friend has a really kind of a tragic element to their family story. She lost her dad when her friend was pretty young. She said, “So what do you do when an important team member is missing? Like the dad.” That’s a really obviously practical question as well because for so many people, I think now it’s more than 50% of people actually live most of their childhood without the constant input of their biological father. So this certainly is no longer the exception to the rule. So yeah, Jeff, I wanted you to tease this out a little bit. The one thing that I wanted to share is just the heart of God is father for people that are in this situation.

One of my favorite passages that really reflects God’s heart as a father is in Psalm 65. It says, “Father of the fatherless and a protector of widows is God in his Holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home. He leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.” Part of what this is just describing is God as father really has a special relationship with the fatherless and it’s his intention to settle them in a home and to make sure that they have that family experience. Oftentimes of course, when that’s been taken from you in childhood, God will want to give that to you through your families. You begin to establish a family into adulthood, but I think that when you are thinking about your past in this way, it’s important to, instead of maybe saying it doesn’t matter. It’s just as good to have a childhood without a father, that’s not helpful.

I know that that kind of can ease some of the pain in a short term, but I believe it a better way to kind of work through that loss is to really acknowledge it as a loss and grieve what was lost and say, “Man, that really sucks. I really suffered through childhood because of this and I know that it was God’s plan or God’s design, maybe a better way to say it, God’s designed for me to have experienced life in an intact home or with my dad, but through whatever circumstances that was not something that I got to experience.” So grieving that I think so that you don’t speak a lie over family. Your ideas of family don’t get twisted or changed, but that you say, “Yeah, that that is a real loss.’

Then I think in your relationship with God as your father, receive the special grace that Psalm 65 is describing. Father to the fatherless and protector of the widows is God and his Holy habitation. That it’s God’s intention to redeem that experience. You got to give God time to do that, but that is his intention. He is going to be actively working on your behalf to help you have this experience. This is what it says in the next verse. God settles the solitary in a home. For a lot of you guys listening to this, you’re experiencing healing from your past through embracing your role as a father in your family. It’s important to connect those two things together, but Jeff, yeah. How have you thought through this one?

Yeah, I totally agree. I think you have to not just have a more realistic … How do I say this? It’s not just hunker down. That’s not the answer, but there is a level of when you know that a mission doesn’t disappear, then you like an organism, you kind of reframe yourself. Not necessarily saying that, like if you lose your leg, that’s not saying, “Oh, I should have just lost my leg from the beginning,” but there is something of adaption that happens, you know what I mean? I think of like all these hard stories of trying to think of the one I read weeks ago when I was doing some research of a family that basically they got in a plane crash and the son and maybe one person survived and they had to kind of hike out.

It was a crazy story of survival without their normal leadership and parents or whatever. There’s just something about when you still have to survive, when you still have to have a mission when you’re still doing something, there is a grace about which the mission creates a resilience. Or you just you still have to move forward. I think sometimes we think of there’s a weird thing because we don’t always believe in the mission of the family that sometimes we believe, “Well, if that’s not there, then I don’t believe in this or we don’t need to do anything.” Right?

Right. Like family’s not for me or something.

Exactly. That’s what I’m trying to say. Yeah. When that’s true and then on top of that, then you have the grace of God that meets you in that place, that heals you in that place, that does something really special in that place. You see all these types of families all over the world, single parents, blended families, horrible, whether it’s deaths, whether it’s a sibling having to almost raise a kid, the Lord has transformed and profoundly impacted the world and families and all these different type of people through unique team situations.

So I think it’s less about saying, “Oh, we don’t have the ideal family,” but thinking about, “No, no, but what your job is to be the ideal team with the players you have and the coaches you have.” God wants to make you the ideal team and with how your team looks right now. I think there’s something about that that brings a resolve that can be really powerful and grace filled when you kind of center it on that.

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