Isaiah 9:6

Some of us have wonderful memories of our childhood and our fathers. But for others, fatherhood is a painful thought. For some, their dads were not very good to them, and they live with the scars from that: the hurt, the wounds, the damage.

Still, for others, it wasn’t that dad was bad or good—he was just gone. He was absent, either physically or, perhaps worse, emotionally. For a few, dad wasn’t a part of their lives because of death, and they may have struggled with the feeling of having been abandoned, even though they know it wasn’t their fault. Speaking to the theme of fatherhood will indeed strike a deep chord in your heart, either painful or pleasant.

And yet here is the good news of the gospel: Jesus Christ helps us know God as our Father, not just our Father, but our everlasting Father, One who will never leave nor forsake us, One who is always there for us, One who has us in the palm of His hand for ever and ever.

In fact, it is the distinctive mark and privilege of a Christian to know God as everlasting Father. This is at the heart of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. You know God as Father. You don’t grope in the dark looking for some higher spiritual power or chase after some false and fickle deity. No, because of Jesus, this child to be born, this Son to be given (Is. 9:1-7), you confess that “there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live” (1 Cor. 8:6).


Jesus enjoys a unique relationship with God. But here’s the truly beautiful thing: Because of what Jesus has done for us—in His life, death, and resurrection—He enables us to enter into a relationship with God as our Father: indeed, our everlasting Father.

He opens the way to us through adoption. We only know God as Father because of Jesus Christ His Son, and because He sends His Spirit into our hearts to enfold us into the family of God as children of the heavenly Father (Matt. 11:25-27).

Some of you know that within the adoption community, a wonderful phrase is used to talk about the hope that adoptive families provide for orphaned children. Many orphans will be passed from family to family, sometimes three, four, or more times— which is very difficult for the child, leaving them with a profound sense of insecurity and uncertainty about their place and value in the world.

Adoptive families now talk about being the forever family for these children. The bond of adoption, while not the same as the bond of blood and biology, is nevertheless just as permanent.

Did you know that God has a forever family, of which He is everlasting Father? Our adoption is guaranteed for all eternity; we are, by faith in Jesus, part of God’s forever family.


Becoming a child of God is the highest privilege and honor that can be imagined. Because of it, we have a new relationship with God and a new standing before Him.

Being a child of God, adopted “through faith in Christ Jesus” is the source for our hope, the security of our future and the motivation to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Eph. 4:1).

As children of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we are called to a higher standard, a different way of life and a greater hope.

As we come to understand the true nature of God as revealed in the Bible, we should be amazed that He not only allows us, but even encourages us, to call Him “Abba Father.” It is amazing that a holy and righteous God, who created and sustains all things, who is the only all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present God, would allow sinful humans to call Him “Daddy.”


To know God as your everlasting Father is a privilege beyond description! I love the way 1 John puts it, with the right sense of wonder and amazement: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (3:1). What a privilege, what a gift, what a grace!

When you know God as Father, not simply as a cosmic force, it changes the way you address God; it changes the way you pray. You learn to look to the Father in prayer with a childlike boldness. This is how Jesus taught us to pray.

But we also learn to approach God in prayer with vulnerable dependence: that is, when we find ourselves in a difficult spot—pain, fear, doubt, or hardship—we learn to cry out to God with the words, “Abba, Father!” (Matt. 7:7-11).

Often, when difficulty comes into the life of a Christian, they can feel like God is farther away, less available, or less intimate. But don’t miss the example of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when He prayed in this way: “Abba, Father … everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36; Rom. 8:15).


Recently, Mohamed El-Erian, the CEO of an investment company that manages over one trillion dollars in assets made news when he quit his job. He didn’t leave because of a shady business deal or corporate conflicts. He left for his family. His daughter was starting to be rebellious and when questioned about why she wasn’t listening, she came back with a list of over 20 times in the last few months when her father had chosen work over her.

El-Erian had valid reasons for missing her first day of school, the many soccer matches, and parent-teacher conferences. Travel, important meetings, and emergency situations were to be expected because he ran an international company. Making work a priority was helping the business grow, but at what cost? He realized that he no longer had a relationship with his daughter—someone he loved very much. Someone who was counting on him to be there. When he realized the true cost of his job, El-Erian quit so he could focus on being a dad.1

Just like El-Erian, God is a father. But even though He is the father to every person on earth, He is the daddy that will never miss anything in our lives. God is always there. God was there when you were born, learned to walk, and tied your shoes. He was there for your first day of school, first date, and first break up. He was there when you were baptized and when your parents passed away. He rejoices when you rejoice and cries with you in your sorrows. He sits with you in the hospital room when you have your first child and when you are diagnosed with cancer. He was there to lead you to your job and introduce you to your friends. He was with you when you got married, when you celebrated your 25th anniversary, or in your singleness. He delights in being by your side in good times and bad, in trials and victories. God—the everlasting Father— is always with you!

1 Mohamed A. El-Erian, “Father and Daughter Reunion,” (accessed October 15, 2014).

S. Joseph Kidder is a professor of Christian ministry and biblical spirituality at the Andrews University Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA.