Many people struggle to believe God loves them
because of a dysfunctional mom or dad.
This past weekend I spoke to some students at a
college in New Hampshire. Knowing that many young people today come from broken
homes (more than 1 million children today are the victims of divorce), I felt I
needed to talk to them about the fatherly heart of God. I wasn’t surprised when
several people’s eyes got misty as soon as I mentioned the word “father.”
“What about you? Do you have emotional wounds
resulting from your upbringing? If so, these hurts can block your understanding
of God’s unconditional love.”
What about you? Do you have emotional wounds
resulting from your upbringing? If so, such hurts can block your understanding
of God’s unconditional love. I encourage you to not only forgive your parents
but also to renounce unhealthy mindsets you may have adopted because of trauma.
Make sure you believe the following:
1. Your heavenly Father will never abandon you. Nothing is more traumatic
to a child than a family breakup. Children often blame themselves for
divorce—and they experience acute feelings of insecurity. They can also develop
the wrong idea that if their father or mother was willing to walk away from
them, God will do the same.
2. Your heavenly Father will never verbally berate
recently met a girl whose parents wanted her to be a boy. As a result of their
disapproval, they criticized her constantly, told her she was ugly and demanded
that she stay in her room most of the time. As a result of this constant
criticism she struggled to receive love and found it difficult to believe God
could ever love her.
Believe the truth: The Lord is a loving Father who
speaks tenderly to His children; and even when He must discipline us, it is for
our good. James 5:11 says: “We … have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings,
that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.”
3. Your heavenly Father will never abuse you. I have an African friend,
Medad, whose cruel, domineering father beat him with the same stick he used to
beat his mother. Medad still has scars on his back, chest and stomach from his
father’s angry outbursts. Finally, his father piled the family into a car,
drove them into a rural area and ordered them to get out of the vehicle. He
cursed them and left them to die. His father’s behavior made Medad angry and
vengeful until he found salvation in Jesus.
Believe the truth: God is not an abuser. He is a
good Shepherd who protects us. If you were abused by someone, either
physically, sexually or verbally, recognize that God did not approve of that
behavior and He wants to heal you from the pain of that experience.
4. Your heavenly Father will never withhold
affection from you. I’ve met dozens of men whose fathers never once said to them, “I love
you.” Many of these guys struggle today with addictions to alcohol, drugs and
other mind-numbing substances because they don’t know how to process the lack
of security they feel. And women who never received healthy, non-sexual
affection from their fathers often end up trapped in a promiscuous lifestyle
because they’re searching for the love they were denied.
Believe the truth: God is crazy about you and He
wants to shower you with love! Isaiah described God as a Shepherd who gathers
His lambs and carries them in His bosom (see Is. 40:11). As a believer in
Christ you always have access to the Father through the Holy Spirit (see Eph.
2:18). He wants you to be close to Him.
5. Your heavenly Father will never abandon you
A loving parent, no matter how small their income, can make a child feel secure
by providing food on the table, a warm bed and clothes to wear. Unfortunately,
in these days of deadbeat dads and struggling one-parent families, many people
grow up financially crippled. God doesn’t automatically give people Cadillacs
if they tithe, but any follower of Jesus can bank on God’s promises of
Believe the truth: Jesus said the Father knows we need food, clothes
and shelter. “Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek
first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to
you” (Matt. 6:31-33). We serve a generous God.
6. Your heavenly Father will never act in an
unstable manner. I have a friend whose father was a secret alcoholic. As a boy, my
friend never understood why his father was nice one day and angry the next. He
blamed himself for his dad’s erratic behavior—and to this day he still carries
some of the pain of that emotional trauma.
Believe the truth: God is not unstable. He never gets
drunk, high or out of control. 1 Sam. 15:29 says God “will not lie or change
His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.” Circumstances
never affect God’s nature. He will always, always, always stay the same.
No matter what fatherly wounds you may have
suffered, and no matter how long ago the pain entered, God can heal your heart
and fill in the gaps. Reach out and receive the Father’s embrace.