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Our Father to the Fatherless (#OurFatherDevotional)
by Mike Douris
Posted on Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Psalm 68:5-6 - A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing. 

Over the past several decades, the position of the father has been under attack. The fight for equality for women has, in some ways, inadvertently diminished the role of fatherhood. The redefining of family for various reasons by secular society has also put in question of why a father is even a necessary part of family. The entertainment industry often portrays fathers as bumbling fools who always make mistakes and rely on their wives and kids to bail them out of trouble.

All of this distorts the vital role that the Lord has for the position of fatherhood. The impact of fatherlessness has been devastating to families. Right now, there are 24 million children in the U.S. who do not have fathers, and the statistics of the impact of that are alarming. Children who do not have a father present at home:
  • Have 4 times greater risk of poverty
  • Are 7 times more likely to become pregnant as a teen
  • Are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs
  • Are more likely to commit crimes and go to prison

The Bible describes the role of fatherhood and the importance of that position in the family. In fact, when the Bible mentions “orphans and widows,” it is referring to a family unit that has lost its father, rather than two classes of people. Of the 150 million orphans estimated by UNICEF, the vast majority (almost 90%) live in a single parent home. Either the father has abandoned the family or died.

In all my 40-plus years in orphan ministry, I have concluded that we would have significantly fewer orphans if fathers fulfilled their biblical role. Even the HIV pandemic on the African continent has been significantly fueled by fathers having sex outside of marriage and infecting their wives. This has created millions of orphans and significantly impacted life expectancy in most African countries.

The role of fatherhood is so important that God describes Himself as Father. Timothy Keller describes how amazing a concept this is when he says,

Don’t miss the significance of this. When people ask me, “How do you want to be introduced?” I usually propose they say, “This is Tim Keller, minister at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.” Of course, I am many other things, but that is the main thing I spend my time doing in public life. Realize, then, how significant it is that the Biblical writers introduce God as “a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows” (Psalm 68:4-5). This is one of the main things he does in the world. He identifies with the powerless, he takes up their cause.

The Lord knows every orphan on the planet and considers Himself a ??? -

Aramaic for ‘papa’ or ‘father.’ It is a word that expresses intimacy – the intimacy of relationship. The Father provides that relationship and all the functions of fatherhood through the Church to carry out His will in caring for orphans. That mandate was given to Israel and then to the church in James 1:27. The Old Testament word for orphan is “fatherless.” When we care for orphans, we are carrying out the Father’s role in very tangible ways.

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It is not by accident you are reading this devotion right now, and the Lord has a special purpose for you. My prayer is that, on a mission trip or through child sponsorship, the Lord leads you to a child He wants you to provide hope to and show that they are uniquely loved. Also, I pray you will become a voice and an advocate for children. I pray that the blessings you receive will not only come as a result of your serving the children, but by reflecting God’s heart in that service, it will enhance the intimacy of your relationship with the ‘Father to the Fatherless.’

Practice: Memorize Psalm 68:1-2 today.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How did you feel when you read the statistics above regarding the effects of absent fathers?
  2. What would you say are the characteristics of a perfect father?
  3. How can we communicate the perfect love of the Heavenly Father to the children we serve?


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