The Lord says,
“Then I will heal you of your faithlessness;
my love will know no bounds,
for my anger will be gone forever.
Hosea 14:4 (NLT)
It has been said that a child’s view of God often comes directly from their relationship (or lack of relationship) with their father. How a child sees God is often the same as they see their dad. I get why kids make the comparison, and as a dad I’ve often felt the weight of that responsibility.
Perhaps that’s why when I read the prophets I sometimes feel a pang of understanding with God’s point-of-view as He relates and responds to His children. While not universally true, I think it is generally true that fathers tend to be the hand of justice in a family while mothers provide a balance of compassion. Dads often make the unpopular and difficult decisions, risking the temper tantrums and cold shoulders, trusting that the child will eventually realize that it was ultimately for their benefit.
Dad’s also tend to be the executioner of punishment. Among my numerous friends with small children, I still hear the phrase “wait ’til your father gets home” used in high frequency. As the judge, jury and executioner of family justice, I find it easier to relate when the prophets warn, cajole and speak of God’s anger at His children’s foolishness and outright rebellion. But I also realize that this is not the whole story.
Underneath this father’s iron fist of justice beats a soft heart of love and compassion. Our daughters may have felt my stubborn wrath, but my wife will tell you at just how deeply I agonize over the girls when I have ever had to make difficult decisions that resulted in the girls disappointment, frustration, or anger. I get it when God continues to remind His children through the prophets that at the source of the fire hose of justice you’ll find the still waters of love and compassion. As the saying goes, “still waters run deep.”
Today, I’m thankful for being a dad and the spiritual lessons it affords. I continue to pray that, despite may many failings, I will always be for my children (and someday their children and their children’s children) a worth example of our Heavenly Father.