Hebrews 12:9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
This whole chapter is one I quote frequently, because it’s got a lot of very practical truth in it. What strikes me about this particular verse is that today, tragic numbers of people do not have human fathers who discipline them. Biology hasn’t changed, but society has. Far too many men are no more than sperm donors as far as their biological children are concerned. That is the source of much of the social chaos in the world today. I point out in premarital counseling that when the Bible talks about parenting it is never addressed just to the mother. More often, it is addressed just to the father! That comes as a shock to most of the couples I talk to. The devil hates the family precisely because it reflects the relationship between God and mankind, and he does all he can to disrupt that. Today we have an epidemic of absentee fathers in many senses. Some just have a passing fling with a girl and never know or care about conception. Some have a “serious relationship” with a girl but never make it legal, and there is little to hold the couple together. Some are discarded by the mother of their children because the social welfare system gives more money if there isn’t a man in the household. Some have a “traditional family,” but are emotionally distant from their children, considering them an infringement on their time. Whatever the format, the result is a vast number of people with a “father wound” stemming from the lack of an effective father-figure in their upbringing. There doesn’t have to be a biological tie; adoptive fathers can be very effective indeed. The thing is, without a human father, we have trouble grasping the whole concept of Father God, and that is what the devil is after. Human fathers are never perfect, but they at least lay the framework for us to grow in acknowledging and relating to our Heavenly Father. The lack of a father to apply appropriate discipline, as this verse talks about, results in people who have no idea how to deal with difficulty; they want and expect everything to be handed to them all the time. That results in a wide spectrum of social ills that are the hallmark of society today.
I don’t remember my father as a stern disciplinarian, but I knew he was the ultimate authority in our home. I am the youngest of four siblings, and I was the only one left at home when my father realized he had let his priorities get skewed. Even so, he did far better than so many fathers. As a pastor I deal with people who have gaping father wounds, essentially disabling them from productive, happy lives. I am a father-figure to a number of people, but there are certainly limits to how far I can go with that. I can’t exactly “lay down the law” to an adult who isn’t my biological child! However, I can pray for them, and God is able to heal all their wounds and lead them into His fullness. The task for me is not to try to do it myself, because I certainly can’t do the job, but still be available to God for however He wants to use me in the process. He is indeed the perfect Father, and I’ve got to trust Him with that.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the people to whom You allow me to minister. I don’t have wisdom for the job, but You do. I pray that I would be totally obedient to You so that Your plans may be fulfilled for everyone, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!