SONS and daughters we are, by this accord. Recently my son, who was under one year of age at the time, and I were playing and he got hurt. I got to feel as a father how the Father might feel when we are hurt. I had gotten down to his level – my head on the floor, as I lay there prone – and he was so excited as he climbed on me, he lost grip and his nose (with gravity) came to rest with a thud against my hard head!
Instantly, there were shrieks of crying, with anger, for he didn’t know in his infancy what the pain was or how to stop it. He took a minute or so of my wife and I consoling him to finally settle down. He was palpably distressed and so were we! We wanted so badly to take his pain away; to make it like he had never experienced it in the first place. But we couldn’t. What was done was done. We did the best we could in consoling him. Our anxiety only settled when his did.
As a father I was delighting in the outworking of intimacy with my child and, then suddenly, that joy was overturned to anxious sorrow. Can there be this parallel between human and Divine parenthood?
How Must Our Heavenly Father Feel?
We thought of the parallel between what a human father (or mother) feels and what the Father in heaven might feel.
Perhaps the Father takes great joy in being part of our lives – his sons and daughters. Maybe the Father sees us get hurt and is just as distressed (in his hurt – however that is manifest) as we are, though we cannot know because we don’t see.
Possibly he wants to take our pain away, but, like us real-life parents, he cannot – the consequences for actions taken or received persist. Perhaps he hates it that we ever experience such pain in this life. These are worthy thoughts, because we are made in the image of God, and at least by parenthood we might feel something of what the Father in heaven feels.
Such an attribution of the Father’s empathy is helpful as we consider how to respond to the hurts of life – seeing that God actually does care, because, like us, he cannot not care. It is possible to experience God groaning, crying, lamenting, and angry, with us through the Holy Spirit, like we may be. This experience of God helps a great deal, because that’s how we experience healing through meaning-making.
God the Father feels, as does any loving father or mother. When his precious child or children are hurt, God groans, cries, laments, and is angered, according with what we might feel. Such an understanding of God ultimately helps us approach healing through meaning-making.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.