My brother and his two children (son 12 years and daughter 5 years),are temporarily staying at my home, while their home is under renovation. In observing their relationship, I could not help but think that his love for his children is analogous to our heavenly Father’s love for us.
As the Father in the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9 “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,” that which is referred to here, is the natural affection of the parent for the child; the tender love which is borne by the parent for his offsprings; the disposition to care for their needs; the readiness to forgive when an offence has been committed. He provides them with basic guidelines for living and decision-making and prays that they will have wisdom and discernment from above to make the right decisions along the way.
His children have a filial fear of him and his goodness, not as a servant but as his children. They know that he loves them and will do good to/for them, and they trust him when they would not trust any other. Perhaps they have been taught who should be the authority in their lives while they live under his roof. He spares not the cane (when it hurts him more than his children) and shrinks not from disciplining them when they disobey his and God’s Word, when they are found to waste money, water and electricity and food. He expects them to be hardworking and not lazy, he expects them to study hard with the opportunities they are given, to play hard in sports or music and to enjoy themselves. He provides for them with the best food for their sustenance and he protects them when he knows they cannot protect themselves.
When in any affliction, disorder, or distress: he stands as a father to his children adopting grace and mercy. He allows them some latitude in behaviour and brings them through by coaching, cajoling, scolding and finally disciplining.
Compare the compassion – the kindness – which God has for those that love him. “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. The fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. Luke 15:22-24. Yes my brother celebrates too when his children have learnt a valuable life lesson be it through suffering or disobedience.
When they are in trouble, he
– looks upon his children in their lost estate whether because of lack of knowledge or experience, and brings them out of it;
– supports them when they face temptations
– sympathizes with them in their afflictions:
– is full of compassion, and forgives their sins;
– in the most tender manner, receives them when they have been disobedient, and helps them overcome their weaknesses.
The Scripture says a great deal of the mercy of God, and we all have experienced it.
As a father, my brother pities his children when they are
– weak in knowledge, and teaches them;
– stubborn, and bears with them
– sick, and comforts them;
– fallen, and helps them to rise;
– offended, and, upon their submission, helps them learn to forgive;
– wronged, and rights them.
The children benefit from his appreciation for
– the frailty of their bodies,
– the folly of their souls,
– how little they can do,
– how little they can bear;
in all when his compassion appears.
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. Psalm 103:13.
Let us pray for all Christian fathers as they represent their heavenly Father on earth so that in their example the children may see Christ and learn to love Him too.
Let us also remember the non-Christian fathers of Christian children, that the fathers may be drawn closer and come to know the Lord perhaps by the examples of their Christian children in caring and honoring their parents.
May those of us who have been given responsibility to care for others younger or less able than us, also find the pity to treat them right, act on their behalf as appropriate and care them like He cares.
We care because He has taught us to care.