Knowing God As A Loving Father When Your Dad Was Not

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Do you ever wonder if God is like your dad?  If you had negative experiences with your physical father and life was a total disaster, you likely have a distorted view of God.  

It may be hard for you to imagine that God has the perfect father’s heart and really loves you.  Let me assure you that knowing God as a loving father is possible.  He is not like your dad. 

How is God different from our dads? 

Does knowing God as a loving father seem impossible? Do you lump Him in with all the negative father figures you have known?

God is not like your earthly father.  This is important to know if you had a less-than-perfect relationship with your dad.

It is unfortunate that our earthly fathers affect our perceptions of God. 

“How tragic that such a beautiful facet of God’s character — that He is not a distant, impersonal ruler, but a warm and welcoming papa — is often tainted by the weaknesses of human fathers!” (Vance Fry, Focus on the Family, May 6, 2016)

It is extremely important to get to know God, the God of the Bible, not the God of our perceptions.  

  • If your dad was stern and strict, you probably see God as a harsh disciplinarian. 
  • If your dad was absent most of the time, you probably see God as distant and uninterested in you.  
  • If your dad abandoned your family, you may fear that God will abandon you also.  

There are many other ways that your earthly father affects your views of God. Let me assure you that all of the distorted perceptions are wrong.  

Our creator adores you, and knowing God as a loving father is possible. He is the perfect father.

Characteristics of God the perfect father

The father-child relationship is extremely important in molding our perceptions of God. 

“The essence of fatherhood is found in God, not in human beings.” (Pastor Gene Veith, Concordia Theological Seminary)

The role of fathers is to protect, teach, nurture, provide for, and enjoy their children.  There are many Bible verses about knowing God as a loving father.  Here are some of them. 

 1. God the Father protects His children

When we are born, we are totally dependent and helpless. Without protection, we would not survive. This is also true spiritually.  We are helpless apart from God. 

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. ”  (These are God’s words as written by David in Psalm 91:14-15, ESV) 

Did you notice the conditions?  God doesn’t protect everyone. He protects those who love Him and know His name.  When we are His children, we have this mindset. Do you know Him personally? 

 2. God the Father teaches and nurtures His children

Children need someone to help them learn how life works.  Education, whether formal or informal, takes up most of the first 20 or so years of our lives. God is the best teacher of all. He deserves the Teacher of the Year award every year! 

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (This is Jesus speaking in John 14:26 ESV)

God teaches us through the Bible. He also uses other people and His creation for our education. 

 3. God the Father provides for His children

Jehovah-Jireh is one of the names of God and means “the Lord will provide”. 

The fact that we are alive is a testimony to the many physical provisions that God has given to us.  We are blessed with shelter, food, water, air to breathe, clothing and so much more.  

He has also given us people to help us receive His physical gifts. Those people could be parents, God-parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles, or an orphanage.

Regardless of who brought these provisions into our lives, ultimately, they come from God. 

 4. God the Father enjoys His children

One of the things that fathers do when they enjoy their children is to give them gifts.  But not just any gifts. A good father knows what his kids like and finds a way to provide some of those things.  All good things are good gifts from our heavenly Father. (James 1:17)

Probably one of the sweetest gifts that God has given to me was when I was single again and dreading Valentine’s Day.  

You see, I love all the flowers and hearts and knew those were things I would not receive.

Much to my surprise, just before Valentine’s Day, we had baby goats born.  One of them had the shape of a heart on its back in darker-colored hair.

Then the morning of Valentine’s Day, when I walked out of my little cottage, the pansies had started to bloom even though it was winter. 

Why does God do things like this? Because He delights in us, which is another way of saying He enjoys His children.  (Psalm 149:4, 147:11, 18:19, and more.)

Loving fathers communicate their love

Even dads who protect, teach, and provide for their children may not necessarily enjoy them. They may not communicate love in a way that their children understand.  

If your dad did not show love well, it may be hard to understand that God loves you unconditionally. You don’t have to earn it. 

Here are further ways that God communicates His love and are part of His character. But we will never understand that until we get to know Him better.

 1. God wants the best for us 

While God wants the best for us and nudges us in that direction, He remembers that we have limitations and often don’t meet his standards. We never have to earn His love. (Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 103:14, Ephesians 2:8-9)

God also knows our desires and is pleased when we are trying to respond in the right way. (Psalm 37:4)

 2.  God is our biggest fan

El Roi is another name for God and means the God who sees.

He listens, watches, and is thrilled when we want His attention. He also is well aware of the times when friends and family are not on our side. He is a God of comfort. (Genesis 16:13, 1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 23:4, 2 Corinthians 1:4)

3. God won’t abandon us

Emmanuel means God is with us.  

It doesn’t matter what we may be facing, He is by our side every second when we put our trust in Him. He will not leave us or abandon us. (Isaiah 7:4, Matthew 1:23, and more.)

 4. God is Faithful

Most of us have known some disappointment as children. Even the best of fathers have had something come up that took the place of taking their child somewhere fun.

Let me assure you that when God makes promises, they are never broken. Never. He keeps His promises. (Deuteronomy 7:9, 2 Timothy 2:13, 2 Thessalonians 3:3, 1 Corinthians 1:9, and more.)

Being a child of God in the Family of God

So how do we get into this family of God in the first place? And, what builds a correct concept of “father” so that we can have an intimate relationship with Him? 

1. Being adopted into God’s family

The first step to knowing God as a loving father is through a personal relationship with Jesus.   

If you don’t know Jesus, you probably have questions. The people at Chat About Jesus have answers. You can text, call, or chat with them online any time of the day or night.

2. Spiritually building the father-child relationship 

Second, you need to get to know God and understand the nature of God. You need to experience His deep love. But how does this happen? Here is a primer. 

Read your Bible to get to know Father God

There is no substitute for this. As children of God, we can’t know Him as a loving father until we read His love letter over and over.

If you are new to the Christian faith, you may feel overwhelmed by the sheer size of the Bible. Where should you start reading? Here are some suggestions. 

Talk to God regularly

Some people call this their prayer life.

God talks to us mainly through the Bible. We talk to Him through prayer. This back-and-forth conversation is a large portion of the Christian life. 

Don’t give God the silent treatment. People who love each other communicate. It is a two-way street.

Spending time with the family of God

We should not expect to live this Christian life alone. We need encouragement from the rest of the family, other children of God. In fact, the Bible says this is an important part of the Christian life that we should not neglect. 

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25 NLT

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT

Fill your mind with good news

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 NLT

Much of what is seen or heard on social media, news, soap operas, magazine, books, movies, and secular music does not fit this description. They don’t remind us of God’s love. In fact, much of it is quite the opposite. 

Many people think these things are not a problem, but the Bible is clear that we become what we think about. 

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he …” Proverbs 23:7 KJV

Christian music helps us think the right thoughts. These two recordings are good examples of good news that remind us about God being a loving father.  You can listen to them here: 

Run to the Father, by Cody Carnes. 

Good, Good Father, by Chris Tomlin. 

A gift for knowing God as a loving father

As you are reading your Bible and other encouraging books, I want you to have these bookmarks as reminders that God is the perfect father. No email is required. Just download them. 

Photo of bookmarks about knowing God as a loving father.

You also are welcome to download June’s Daily Portion. It is a free printable Bible Reading Plan. The theme is “Run to the Father”.

For those who like to color, and want more daily reminders of knowing God as a loving Father, there is a 19-page Bible verse coloring book available that is a companion to this article.

If you have never used Bible verse coloring pages before, you can sample the one below for free.

photo of the coloring page.
God our loving Father sampler

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