“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:13)
The Psalms were Jesus’ songbook and prayerbook. In Psalm 103 we see that God is like a compassionate father. Jesus frequently called God his father (pater) in the New Testament, but was only recorded once calling God his “abba”. Referring to God as father (pater) was common among Jews of that day and Psalm 103 would have been one of the songs that they sung about God as a compassionate father with steadfast love. But Jesus does something radical in the Garden of Gethsemane as recorded in Mark’s gospel.
“And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.’ And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, 'Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will’” (Mark 14:32-36, ESV).
Jesus reveals that God is not only a father (pater) but a dear father (abba).
Imagine a child growing up in Jerusalem today. One day, she and her father go shopping in the marketplace. She is holding tight to her daddy’s hand. Out of the corner of her eye, she catches a glimpse of a shiny, new doll. She longs for it so badly. She lets her Father’s hand slip out of hers and she runs over to hug the baby doll. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the market, she loses her father. She looks around and can’t see him anywhere. She does the only thing she knows at that moment. She cries out, "ABBA! ABBA!" And as she calls for her daddy, he comes busting through the crowd like Superman and swoops her up in his arms and carries her for the rest of the day.
I long for my daughters to grow up in a world that is safe, fair and just for all regardless of the color of their skin. The Church can and must continue to shine God’s light in these dark times of division, showing the unity the Father desires which is a near future where all the nations will gather as one, bowing down to the Lamb (Revelation 7:9). Until that day we are to show the world a preview of this united family of God with every beautiful color confessing sins to one another, lifting up the hurting, celebrating the Spirit’s work and gathering for joyful worship. I believe the Father would want no other gift on this earthly Father’s Day then to see His children loving each other fully, practicing now what they will be doing for eternity with Him.
You may not be a young child anymore, but you will always have God as your Abba. He is always ready to carry you when you call out to Him. Jesus did as He approached the cross. You can as you approach the challenges of our times. Whether it is the health pandemic, economic pandemic, cultural pandemic or spiritual pandemic, God is close to those who fear Him, revere Him and call out to Him. He is your Abba, your Daddy, your ever-present Father.
Living Out the Word of God
Spend some time praying to God, the Father, your Abba, today. Ask Him to help you become the person He desires in the turbulent times. Perhaps even try simply praying for a few minutes as you wake each morning, “Abba, Father, I belong to You.”
You are our Father who has unlimited compassion and steadfast love for us your children. Your are our Abba, carrying us when we cry out to You. Help us to love our brothers and sisters of every in Christ of every skin color, who all call you their Father and whom we will all be bowing down in worship of You one day soon. Come, Lord Jesus, come. Until then, may You find us faithful servants. Amen.