Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

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To the Fatherless Child on Father's Day

~~A decade ago, I was a happy pastor’s wife staying home to raise my three children. We were the picture of the perfect family.

Then, my perfect life was ripped to shreds. Lies. Infidelity. Betrayal. Immeasurable pain. And suddenly, I was a single mom struggling to raise my three precious children on my own.

Without a father in the home, my boys stepped up to the plate, expressing their need to be the man of the house…all while I insisted they were still children and God was the man of the house. My daughter latched onto the men in the family…all while I watched helplessly wondering if she would always try to fill the void with men.

Many years have passed as we have found our way in this world without a man—a human man—to lead our home. While our lives are not perfect and certainly not without struggles, we have found a way to thrive in the face of daunting obstacles. We have chosen to look to our heavenly Father to bind up our wounds and heal our broken hearts. We have found that He is a far better provider than any human could ever be. And we have learned the joy of being completely dependent on Him.

But my children have always had a father, even if he was not present in our home. They have always had a human being to call, “Dad,” here on this earth. They have always had someone to celebrate, to honor, on days like Father’s Day.

Was their relationship with their father perfect? No. Did he attend all of their activities? No. Did he celebrate their accomplishments? No. They often felt as if they were fatherless. But they could always feel and touch the man whose DNA runs through their veins.

Two months ago, my children truly became fatherless when their dad passed away suddenly. No warning. No explanation. Just gone.

The two younger children had plans to see him the next night. Plans that never came to fruition.

When he passed, hopes died. Hope that one day they would have the relationship with him they longed for. Hope that one day he would understand the pain they had suffered over the years. Hope that one day they would no longer feel fatherless as he stepped into his God-ordained role.

My heart aches as I see the grief my children bear. I see the tears trickle down their faces as Father’s Day approaches. I hear the anguish as they talk about what they always hoped would be.

The “Daddy-hole” that was already in their lives has been ripped wide open, exposing hurts buried deep within for many years. Grief complicated by guilt. Hopes ripped to shreds. They are left wondering why: Why would God take their daddy so soon? Why were their prayers ignored? Why does life have to be so hard even when we try to follow God as He calls?

As Father’s Day approaches, I see grief intensifying as reality begins to set in. I struggle with how to help my kids walk through these difficult days, to reconcile their pain with the hope to which they’ve clung for the last decade.

And here’s what I want my kids to know.

God is still good. I know it may not seem like it right now, but God is still good. I know it seems like He does the exact opposite of what you pray, of what you hope for. We may not see it today…or tomorrow…or next week…or next year. But if we trust Him, He will show you that He is still good.

I can’t even start to tell you what that good will look like, but I have lived long enough in this life to see Him take the ugliness, the pain, the heart ache and use it for good. He somehow weaves the seemingly unrelated events of our lives together and makes a beautiful mosaic. He uses the sickness and death to point the world back to Him, to give us a testimony of how He can make all things beautiful in His time.

Please, my precious children, cling to your heavenly Father. Trust Him, even when it seems He cannot be trusted. He can see from beginning to end, and He will show you His goodness and grace in His time.

 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

God is strong in our weakness. We have walked this path together for over seven years now. And God has been with us every step of the way. When I was too dazed and confused to be a mom, He was with us. When I was too exhausted to keep going, He strengthened us. When I had no idea how to raise a warrior son, He gave us wisdom.
I’ve watched as you have grown in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. I can’t take any credit for the amazing young people you are, because I gave up on parenting many years ago. I simply surrendered…surrendered to Him and asked Him to do the parenting through me. And what an amazing job He has done with you!

And just because your dad is no longer physically here on this earth does not mean that He has given up on you. To the contrary, God is even bigger! You see, He promises to be perfect in our weakness. That hole in your heart? He is big enough to fill it. The powerlessness you feel about your future, about learning to become the man you are supposed to be? He is strong enough to overcome.

Please. Simply run to Him and let Him be everything you seem to be lacking.

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

God is near the broken-hearted. You hear it all the time, but maybe you have yet to sense it. Maybe it seems as if God is a million miles away, concerned with everyone and everything except the pain overwhelming your life.
But if you seek Him, you will find Him. In the quiet of the morning when the tears stream down your face. In the comforting words of the friend who calls at just the right moment. In the perfect peace that sweeps over just when you think you can’t keep going.

You were there in my darkest days, in the days when I thought the pain would overwhelm me and sweep me away. You watched as our Savior reached down and transformed me, as He rescued me from the grave. You have listened as I gushed about the goodness of my Father, even when my life appeared broken to the outside world. You have seen His mercy poured out in my life, the joy of the Savior overflowing through our pain.

And now it is your turn. It is your turn to see His healing power…because now you have been afflicted. It is your turn to let Him bandage your wounds…because you have a gaping injury. It is your turn to experience His tender loving care…because you hurt so deeply. It is your turn to see that he is near…because you are the broken-hearted.

Please don’t waste this opportunity. Take time to sit in His presence, to soak up His grace. You will never regret letting Him lavish you with His love.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18

God is enough. You may be wondering how you will make it through life without an earthly father. You may be wondering who will teach you all those things a dad is supposed to teach you. You, my precious angel, may be wondering who will walk you down the aisle and give you away on your wedding day. You, my sons, may be wondering who to model your life after as you cross into manhood.

God is enough. He is more than enough. He can give you, my boys, the heart of a warrior. He can teach you to be a great husband and a father. He can make your life so rich, so full that you never have to doubt who you are…whose you are.

He is your provider. He is your friend. He is your comforter. He is your teacher. He is your completer. He is your mentor, your counselor, your guide in this life. He will lead you into your future, give you a life far greater than you could ever ask hope or imagine. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is your Great I Am…exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.

Never doubt that He sees you, your pain, and that He hears your prayers. He is everything you could ever need…and so much more.

“I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5

I know that Father’s Day is going to be painful this weekend…and every year for the rest of your life. Just remember that you are not alone. God has been with us every painful step of this journey, and He’s not about to leave us now.

As a matter of fact, He’s just waiting to celebrate the special relationship He has with you! He is your Father, my precious, children! You are not fatherless, but instead you have the perfect father!