Father's Day: A Day for the Fatherless

Leon M. Brown
Friday, May 1st 2015
May/Jun 2015

It's Father's Day, and Hallmark and other retail stores greatly benefit during this holiday. Revenue is increased as children, quite possibly along with a parent, flock to these venues to purchase cards and other gifts that express gratitude. Children desire to ensure their father knows how much they care about him. It's common, therefore, to see Father's Day gifts with the words "You're the Best!" or "World's Best Dad" etched on them. T-shirts and cards abound with these statements, whether true or not. In all the rejoicing that occurs on this day, what about the other‘the fatherless? How do they celebrate this national holiday? Has this become a second Mother's Day for the fatherless?

During holidays like this, we don't often think about the other. Our minds are often so consumed by our own family ethos, we not only neglect considering the other but we also forsake how we might be a blessing to the other. There is no shortage of the fatherless. According to some statistics, single parent households are as high as 60 percent in some major cities in the United States. Additionally, there are thousands of children awaiting adoption or foster parents. Hence, while Father's Day is a great time to celebrate one's dad, it is also a time to consider the other. James writes, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless…" (James 1:27, King James Version).

The fatherless are a high priority to God (Exod. 22:22; Deut. 10:18; 24:19; Ps. 10:18; 68:5; 82:3). The Lord desires to ensure that justice is not perverted toward the fatherless, that they are well taken care of, and that he, God, is Father to the fatherless. More subjectively, however, many children have never known the warm embrace of a loving and caring father. The fatherless hear stories about how someone's dad is there to clean his son's first wound, teach him how to ride a bicycle, or throw the football on Saturday afternoon. The fatherless live vicariously through those who share narratives about when their father taught them how to drive a car and when he was present to congratulate them at high school graduation. The fatherless can't purchase gifts on Father's Day that say, "You're the Best!" or "World's Best Dad." There's a void in their hearts, whether they admit it or not, where they wish their family were normal and Dad present.

Such reality should cause us to mourn with those who mourn. It should bid us to help in whatever manner we are able (that is, visiting the fatherless and the orphans). There are, however, redemption stories. While the ultimate story of redemption is captured in the gospel, there are lesser versions of redemption and reconciliation that should make our hearts glad.

In February 2013, just after the birth of my daughter, I met my father, who had been absent from my life since I was four. I found his contact information on an Internet website that only charged $2.95 for a telephone number and address. With great anticipation, I called the telephone number, and after a brief interaction with the man on the other line, he revealed that he was my father. Then he said some of the most encouraging words I could have ever heard from him: "I was looking for you."

In the sea of fatherless and orphans, my story is abnormal. Not everyone will have the privilege of meeting their father after over thirty years of absence. Despite such a narrative, however, you can be a blessing to the fatherless and the orphans. There are plenty of children to whom we can reach out on this national holiday. Please consider being an encouragement to the fatherless and orphan on this day’a day when they cannot celebrate the joys of having a godly father in the home.

Friday, May 1st 2015

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

Picture of J. Ligon Duncan, IIIJ. Ligon Duncan, IIISenior Minister, First Presbyterian Church
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