Fears can induce all kinds of uncomfortable responses--physical, psychological, mental, and emotional. But there is one fear in particular that has a devastating effect on us spiritually. It is a fear that can scar our very souls. I'm speaking of the fear of abandonment.
God has created us as relational beings. Each of us has an innate desire to belong, particularly to the ones who gave us life. From the moment we take our first breath, our spirits begin aching for a parental connection. And without minimizing the effect of a mother on the life of a child, there is a void in our souls that only a father can fill.
That is especially problematic in our culture today where fatherlessness has reached epidemic proportions. A recent US Census Bureau report paints the grim picture: Over one-third (33.5 percent) of children in America are, for various reason, living absent from their biological father. In the African American community, 67 percent of children live in fatherless homes.
But whether a father’s absence is due to death, divorce, or disassociation, the result is always the same—children who have an empty space in their lives where a father's love is supposed to be.
Magnifying the problem even more is the fact that death, divorce, and desertion are not the only ways fathers abandon their children. Many children have been abandoned by fathers who are physically present in the home but who are absent emotionally. Children have been abandoned by dads who may be in the next room, but who drink too much, who work too much, or who simply have no clue how to be a dad. Sometimes a dad's occupation takes him away from his kids. Sometimes his preoccupation does.
These kids aren’t included in the 33.5 percent of those living without their biological father. But their reality is the same. They, too, need the love and affection of a dad.
The harsh reality is, some of us will never experience a close relationship with our earthly fathers. But that does not mean our Father void can never be filled. All of us can experience in our lives the active and loving presence of our Father in Heaven. Believing and experiencing the presence of a Heavenly Father can heal our father wound--if we open ourselves to Him.
Psalm 103 tells us that The LORD is like a father to his children (Psalm 103:13, NLT). Granted, to those whose fathers have left them those words are about as uplifting as wearing floaties in a tsunami. But David, the author of that particular psalm, wrote those words in a “best case scenario” context. The ideal father, David says, is filled with “tenderness and compassion” for his children.
In Psalm 27 David paints a vivid picture of the attributes of our Heavenly Father. Throughout this chapter he acknowledges God as our Light, our Salvation, our Fortress, our Protector, and our Helper. These names remind us that we need never feel afraid when our Heavenly Father is around. But in verse 10 he speaks directly to those who are prone to such fears because an absent earthly father. He writes, Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close (NLT). It’s a promise from a Father who has never broken one yet: No matter what your experience with your earthly father, I will hold you close.
Don't continue to run on empty because of father neglect. Stop living with the fear of abandonment because you were deprived by your dad. You have a Father who wants nothing more than to have a loving and close with His kids. He longs to fill the hole in your soul with His abiding presence, His soothing peace, and His limitless love.