When It Hurts to Say “Father” (Galatians 4:1–7)

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ ” —Galatians 4:4–6 (ESV)

Here we have a double sending by the Father. First, He sends His Son, then He sends the Spirit of His Son. He not only sends His Son that we might be sons; He then sends the Spirit of the Son that we might know and enjoy our sonship. 

“Father,” we cannot say it too often, but surely we say it too frivolously. We must not forget what the Father gave, what the Son paid, and what the Sprit testifies of that we might address the Holy God of heaven as “Father.”

Unfortunately, for many in these fatherless times, the term causes them to cry not in joy but in pain. If so, know that the pain is so intense because “father” is meant to mean so much. Contrary to the philosophers of our age, God is not a construct of our father pain. Douglas Wilson writes, “We do not project our ideas of fatherhood up onto the big screen of the heavens. No, God’s ultimate idea of fatherhood is projected onto the little screens that each of us carries around.” Any pain we might associate with God the Father as Father is because we’ve turned the projector around so that it’s blinding our eyes. We’re not meant to project our earthly father’s image up, but our heavenly Father’s image down. In his work on the Lord’s prayer, R.C. Sproul wrote:

“I know people who struggle to address God as Father. People have said to me, ‘I can hardly bear to say it, because my earthly father was a cruel and insensitive person.’ People have told me of instances in which their fathers committed child abuse, and they have asked me: ‘After that experience, how could I possibly address God as Father? The word is repugnant to me.’ I can understand that reaction. I usually acknowledge that what makes the pain and torment they bear in their psyches so severe is the fact that these things didn’t happen at the hands of a next-door neighbor, an uncle, or someone else—it was from their father. Nature itself teaches that they rightfully should expect much more from their earthly fathers than they have received.”

Father pain does testify to our heavenly Father. The stinging void says something was meant to be that isn’t as hunger speaks to food. Saints, the one you cry out to as “Father,” is the one who sent His Son so that we might be adopted as sons. The one you cry out to as “Father,” is the one who sent the Spirit of His Son, that we might know and enjoy our sonship. Can we not then reason as Paul? “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s