About 4 years ago, I lost my dad. It was the most tragic thing that ever happened to me after losing my mom when I was just 11. Before my dad died, we had only gotten close for about six years. His death certificate says he died of multiple organ failure, which was brought about by his recent angioplasty operation. He had just turned 60. I had been there every single minute of his last 24 hours on earth.
Ever since then, Father’s Day had always been a struggle for me. I always dread the idea of going to church because I hate feeling bad for myself that my dad is no longer around. In fact, I have successfully avoided attending church during this time of the year since I could not bear to see all the other people at church celebrate this day with their dads. For this reason, I was planning to skip church last Sunday but changed my mind when a couple of my friends said they’ll be attending.
It turned out that it was a really good decision on my part. Service was oddly mellow and did not pain me. It talked about honoring our parents as a commandment from God. (“Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12) and how it was the first commandment with a promise. When it was time to honor the fathers in church, I was thinking to myself “Oh boy, here we go.”
But for some strange reason, my mind shifted to a friend’s current condition with her parents. I haven’t been friends with this girl for a long time but I learned that she had run away from her home since she was being physically abused by her mom. I learned that she had run away for a few years already and she had no contact with her mom. A few days before Father’s Day, she was admitted to the hospital. We learned that she had a sinus infection and was being treated. She had no other emergency contact other than a common friend from church.
Instead of feeling sorry for myself for being fatherless, I let out a silent prayer for her; just as our Pastor said “Pray for parents even if they aren’t honorable.”
So I did. I let out a prayer for our friend that she would be healed from her current condition and even more than that, there would be healing in her heart with her parents.
And it felt really good. I no longer felt sorry for myself for not having a dad. I realized that I had let the enemy take control over that emotion for some time and used it as a way for me to skip church and not to trust in God’s healing hand. I learned that I was focusing too much on my situation and did not even realize there were others out there who were in a more difficult relationship with their dads.
“The thought of my pain and my homelessness is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed. Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, so in him I put my hope.” (Lamentations 3:19-26 TEV)
As humans, our natural response to pain and problems is to focus on it and the pressures it brings. No matter how long ago the situation has been, we tend to focus on the pain and the hurt. We want to feel sorry for ourselves and let others know how difficult our situation is. But this is not how God wants us to respond to the trials of life. He wants us to focus on His love first, seek His word by reading the Bible, and let Him comfort us by praying.
So when you feel like you’ve lost everything, stop focusing on what’s lost and start focusing on what’s left: God and his love for you. (Rick Warren)
To keep that hurt, to remain in that predicament of “I feel sorry for myself”– these things are always a personal choice. Yes, they do happen and they are very painful to go through. But God does not want us to go through it on our own. He wants us to let go of controlling the hurt by trusting Him. We can let go of the hurt when we decide we want God to rule in our lives.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
(Psalm 46:10 ESV)
These events happen to help us become stronger and learn better to not put control in our hands but in God’s.
” Blessed is the man who makes
the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!”
(Psalm 40:4 ESV)
If you are like me, an orphan in this world. Know that you are not alone. God is always with you. As much as the enemy tries to let you think otherwise, God loves you and cares about what is happening in your life. He hears your cries and hurts when you are hurting. Bask in His glory and seek His grace. And once you’ve already learned to let go of the hurt, don’t give it power to make you feel sorry for your situation. God is your Father and He loves you so much.