AFS – Absent Father Syndrome ∙
Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called “children of God” – and that is not just what we are called, but what we are. – 1 John 3:1 (Phillips translation)
15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
There is a Father Crisis in America. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 25% of American children, 19,500,000, live without a father in the home. In 1960, only 11% of children lived in absent father homes. Mississippi has the highest number of children living without a father in the home, (36.2%) followed by Louisiana (34.4%) and Alabama (30.7%). The three states with the lowest rates of father absence are Utah (11.5%, North Dakota (14.4 %), and Idaho (16%).
When a father is absent, there are often deep, lasting scars formed on the tender, sensitive hearts of the children left behind. The lack of a father has been dubbed, “The Absent Father Syndrome.” What is the source? The physical absence of a father in a family via death or divorce or too many hours spent away from home due to work or war. It can also occur when the father is physically there but is “not there” for his children. Although present, they either don’t know how or don’t want to take on the role of the father. An absent father is incapable of providing his child the foundation needed to develop a healthy character, esteem, and identity. It creates a psychological void.
To make matters worse, our relationship with our human father, or lack thereof, affects the way we think about our heavenly Father. When there is a broken relationship with our earthly father, it is natural to transfer those feelings to our Father God. Thankfully this can be repaired. The void and ache in our wounded hearts can be redeemed. Coming to understand and believe Who and What our heavenly Father is, makes all the difference in the world.
One of the great longings of the human heart is to be accepted, to belong.
One of the seemingly incomprehensible wonders of our relationship with our Father God is that we are adopted into His Forever Family and truly become His children. This is hard to fully grasp. We could contemplate it for all eternity and never fully come to terms with the wonder and magnitude of it all.
REFLECT & PRAY
As children of the King, our identity and security are based solely upon being adopted into the Father’s Forever Family.
Dear Father, Abba, help me to realize that I not only called Your child, I am Your child! I belong to You forever! You are always “there for me.”
It is mindboggling when we recognize that our adoption was not finalized “on paper.” None of us have a physical certificate of adoption. Rather it took place deep within our hearts and spirits. When we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and accepted Him as our Lord and Savior by faith, remarkable supernatural events occurred. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we were born again. Rather than a fragile, destructible certificate of rebirth, our adoption is written down and guaranteed in the eternal word of God.
15So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”
16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.
Before we were adopted, we were the slaves of fear. But now that the Holy Spirit has come to dwell within us, we have been released from slavery. There is no longer any reason to be fearful. What a welcome and blessed relief!
But there’s more.
We no longer have to address Him solely as Father. Rather He is now our Abba Father. The term “father” in English connotes a bit of formality, sternness, or distance. Not so with words like Papa or Daddy. They imply a close intimate relationship. There is a sense of endearment, a warm embrace with smiles, kisses, hugs, and even perhaps a few tickles. That’s what our adoption does for us.
There is no disrespect when we call our heavenly Father, Abba. The encouragement and prompting to do so come from the Holy Spirit Himself within us.
Galatians 4:6 Because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”
The term, Abba Father, is used in one other place in the New Testament. In the garden of Gethsemane, when Christ is in anguish regarding His coming betrayal, trial, humiliation, crucifixion, and death, He cries out, fervently praying, “Abba, Father everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Mark 14:36).
Our adoption is not earned, it is freely given when we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior.
12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
13 They are reborn – not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
Abraham Lincoln asked, “How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg?” The correct answer is Four. “Saying that a tail is a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”
We are not just CALLED the children of God; we ARE the children of God!
Some fathers are good, others not so much. A few fathers are great! Our Father in heaven is not just great, He is magnificent! He wishes us to have a tender, intimate, gentle, and warm relationship with Him. He seeks for us to call Him, Abba. There is no fear when we come to our Papa! What is less scary and more welcoming than a Papa? Well, perhaps a sweet, old, doting grandpapa.
1 John 4:18-19
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
19 We love because He first loved us.
He seeks to fill the void, the vacuum that so many of us have inherited from our absent fathers.