June 21, 2021
By Karen Hunt
“I can’t live without my dad.” I wrote that in my notebook as my father suffered through his final illness. He had been declining in health for almost a year, but now it was obvious he could not last much longer. Every day my mood was governed by my dad’s health. Did he have a good day? A bad one? Was he back in the hospital? My feelings ranged from despair to guarded optimism.
During those days, part of a verse kept coming to me: “A father to the fatherless.” At that time, I didn’t know where it came from, but later I learned it was from Psalm 68:5 (NIV). “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”
This verse in the Psalms became very precious to me. My dad hadn’t been just my father; he had been my spiritual mentor. He had led me to Christ as a child and then had been my teacher in the Christian life. He had been such a great inspiration to me. His enthusiasm for Christ never dimmed. The same week he died, I entered his hospital room to find him discussing the Bible with the respiratory therapist. He died two days before Father’s Day. This is my first Father’s Day without him.
How would I go on spiritually after he died? Would my faith dry up to a shadow without his unstinting encouragement? These thoughts plagued me in the last year of his life. Psalm 68:5 kept coming back to me though that last year, but it was only after he passed that I learned the depth of meaning in this verse.
The comfort started right after he passed. At his funeral, a lifelong friend of my father gave an inspiring testimony of how the Lord had provided and cared for him and his family during hard times. In the months that followed, my husband and I talked more about spiritual things than we did before. I found a Bible study through my church that nourished me. I also started reading the Bible in a more systematic way. With all of this, I found that instead of my faith life diminishing, it was deepened.
Repeatedly in the Bible, God is spoken of as a father. Jesus told us that we are to call God “Father” in prayer (Luke 11: 2 NIV). I realized that although my father was a good father and a Godly man, he was not my heavenly Father. Throughout my life, I had relied on him so much spiritually, when I should have also relied on my heavenly Father. So on this Father’s Day, I have a deeper understanding that the “father to the fatherless” is my father as well. So whether our earthly fathers are still with us, let us rejoice that our Father in heaven is always with us and is always loving and guiding us.
Photo Credit: Liane Metzler