Knowing God as a Loving Father

Have you struggled with the idea of God as your Father?  For years I wrestled with this Biblical concept because I only understood fathers from my own dysfunctional experience.  Knowing God as a loving Father has taken time, trust, and forgiveness. 

I have failed Him and often thought He failed me in the process.  Today we will look at the many ways God loves us as the perfect Father and see how to accept that love regardless of your past.

father holding his son's hands across a table with a bible laying next to them

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Does God the Father Love Us?

Of all the titles of God that Christians argue about, God the Father is the one that had me hurting for a long time.  I guess you could say I have daddy issues and when I tried to understand God as my Heavenly Daddy…  well it just didn’t sit well.

The truth is, my dad messed up a lot.  I love him so much, but being his daughter was hard and it made it hard for me to understand God as God the Father.  However, I’ve met lots of believers without daddy issues who struggle to believe that God loves them so it must be a deeper human struggle.

God loves you!  He loves you with the love of a father; a perfect Father full of grace and mercy.

Today I can say with full assurance that God loves you.  I believe that truth because of the hard work He has done in my life to unravel some of the hurt of my past.  I’ll share some of that here with you today in the hopes it helps you in your journey.

It was hard to let go of the failings of my dad in order to embrace the love of God, but that is exactly what I had to do.

  • I had to forgive my dad.
  • Then I had to understand God as my Heavenly Father who is absolutely nothing like my earthly father.

Apart from the title, father, the two have little in common.  Today I want to contrast our Heavenly Father God with my earthly dad.  Knowing God as a loving Father requires we understand the differences.

Bible Verses About Knowing God as a Loving Father

First, we have to be clear that the Bible undeniably entitles God as our Father.  Not only does it tell us that God is our Father, but that He is crazy about us!

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1 NIV

So God our Father, lavishes us with love. That word lavish literally means He pours it out to overflowing in our lives.  Still, I used to imagine that God might love me, but surely He didn’t like me.  Like if I just kept quiet and tried to not get into trouble we could coexist, but that’s all He really wanted.  Can you relate?

“In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:14 NIV

Then you see stories like Matthew 18 and see that He cares about every single one of us, His children.  He notices if we are keeping too quiet or running off in disobedience.  It really made me shift my perspective.

God loves you.  He cares that you keep in contact with Him and He pours His love out on you.

Related Post: Bible Veres About God’s Love

What Does The Bible Say About God the Father?

So God loves us.  He pours love out on us lavishly.  God cares that we are in His love and in His will.  It’s crazy but it goes much deeper than that.

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:15-16 NIV

We were not born as natural children to God (unless you are Jewish).  God adopted us.  He looked out throughout all of eternity and handpicked you to be His child.  That’s crazy love!

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11-12 NIV

And having chosen to be your Father, God then set out to be the perfect Father who loves you like crazy and will never stop!

Related Post: 40 Encouraging Bible Verses About Choices and Making Wise Decisions

How is God a Loving Father?

Some of the things we saw above not only help us understand that God is our Father, but that He loves us in a perfect way.  Some of the ways God loves us as a perfect Father are hard to believe if we have not had a good earthly example, but they are beautiful all the same. Let me just outline them as we saw above.

  • Provision
    • God provides for us out of His great love (Matthew 7:11-12).
  • Adoption
    • This is beautiful because it means nothing can separate us (Romans 8:15-16).
  • Protection
    • God keeps us safe from so much (Matthew 18:14)
  • Extravagant affection
    • God’s love is so over the top it could make you blush (1 John 3:1).

These are just a few of the amazing ways God is a loving Father.  Even knowing God as a loving Father in my mind, I struggled to believe He loved me in these deep ways.  I had too much baggage tied up in the title father to be able to accept what I didn’t understand.

Here are 5 ways God loves us as God the Father:

  • God chose You
  • He is affectionate
  • God’s love is gracious
  • He actively cares for your needs
  • God will not leave you unchanged

Related Post: 20 Father’s Day Scriptures to Celebrate Dads

God The Father Loves You As His Choice

Any love my dad ever showed had to be earned.  I worked myself ragged to hear his praise but often it was coupled with criticism.  So I just assumed God was that way too.

Imagine my surprise when I read that God chose to love me.  He picked us.  Not only did He pick us to be His children, but He blessed us.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us…. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his [children].” Ephesians 1:3-5 NIV

It was hard to understand that I didn’t need to earn God’s love because He gave it freely before I was even born.  Nothing I could ever do could earn more of God’s love or remove any of God’s love.  He loves me because He chose to love me.

God loves you.  It was His idea.  He doesn’t criticize your best efforts to show Him you love Him.  He blesses you with spiritual blessings as a way to show His great love!

God The Father Loves You Affectionately

Any affection my dad showed had to be begged for.  I hung on his coat when he was around, just hoping for a pat on the head or a piggyback ride.  If I was annoying enough he would pay some attention to me.  So I just assumed God was that way too.

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

God delights in you.  He loves you so much He sings and dances over you!  God shows affection in beautiful ways and there is no begging necessary.

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:8 NIV

When I finally let go of the hurt of having to always beg for a hug or snuggle from my dad, God began to show me that He is always with me.  He knows what I need and gives it freely.  That is such an affectionate love!

God The Father Loves You Graciously

When I messed up, my dad was quick to discipline me.  He would ignore me for what felt like days after the discipline.  At any easy opportunity, my dad would remind me of the failure and scold me to be smarter next time.  So I just assumed God was that way too.

Imagine my surprise when I saw Bible verses about knowing God as a loving Father that showed His character and temperament being so kind and gentle!

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.

He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.”

Psalm 103:8-12 NIV

The idea of God the Father’s love being compassionate, merciful and gracious really changed my heart.  But, I had to forgive my father for not showing those things to me before I could accept them from God.  There is much to be said for letting go and letting God…

Related Post: Giving it to God: 5 Ways to Let God and Let God

God The Father Loves You Actively And Cares for Your Needs

When life got hard and I needed my dad’s help, If he was around, his help was to lecture me about trying harder, “manning up”, and to let me fall flat on my face only to then lay into me about my mistakes.  So I just assumed God was that way too.

To back up this false belief was a life of hardship, poverty, abuse that seemed to imply God didn’t care about my hardships.  Why do hard things happen in the lives of God’s children?

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:8 NIV

I knew this verse, but if I’m very honest with you I struggled to believe it.  God didn’t always answer my prayers.  Hard things always seemed to find me.  If God knew my needs and God cared, why was life always so hard?

God The Father Loves You Too Much To Leave You Unchanged

I don’t know Your situation, but I know mine.  It is true that God wasn’t answering my prayers with a lot of yes’.  It is also true that so many hard things were allowed into my life that I felt like the unwanted stepchild.

But another truth, one that I didn’t like to admit even to myself, is that my life was steeped in sin.  I lived with my boyfriend in sin, I drank and smoked and lied and refused to forgive the hurts of my past.  At some point, amidst all the hurt of my childhood, I decided God hadn’t done a very good job as my Father and my life would be better if I was in control.

And so God allowed me to spiral out in that path for a while.  He didn’t answer many prayers.  He allowed the natural consequences of my actions to bring extra hard times.

God loved me too much to leave me broken, hurting, and living in sin.  The hurt of those consequences brought me to rock bottom where I finally realized I had to surrender my life to God completely.

  • Forgive the hurts of my dad and others.
  • Give up willful sin (sex, drugs, alcohol, lying, etc.).
  • Spend time getting to know God through Bible study and church attendance and prayer.
  • Trust Him to care and love even when I don’t fully understand the path we are on.

Related Post: What is a Prayer Journal (and How do I Use it?)

Bible Verses About the Father’s Love

Some Bible verses about the Father’s love that helped me in the process of surrendering to Him don’t seem to be about His love but they are – in a deep way.  God’s forgiveness, for example, shows a deep love for His children.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 NIV

God’s discipline is another topic that speaks to His great love.  If God didn’t love us, He would leave us to our sin, but He shows great love by gently, graciously helping us see our mess and changing us along the way!

“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:11-12 NIV

Another example of the Father’s love is that He prepares for us to be with Him for all eternity.  What a breathtaking idea, that we will have a room in God’s house.  That’s a kind of love that also likes you and wants to hang around you.

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2 NIV

Knowing God as a Loving Father Brings Freedom

The truth is, I struggled for years to accept God as a loving Father because the example I saw was a flawed human mess.  Most fathers are far from the perfection of God the Father and so it can be tough to shift our focus from them to Him.

It was a struggle to give up control of my life in full surrender to God after years of abuse and neglect and hardship.  There were wounds so deep I needed professional counseling to heal.

It was heart-wrenching to forgive all the hurts of the past.  Gut-wrenching.  God and I walked and cried and screamed and cried some more for years as I worked through the process of forgiveness.

Then slowly I began to feel it.  Freedom.

Surrender to God and forgiveness lead to freedom.  As I surrendered an area to God, I could feel His love flood into that space and fill me up.  When God answered prayers during hard times I could feel His love surround me and sustain me.

Freedom in God comes when we embrace His love.  It’s worth the struggle.

Honestly, we could continue to look at all the ways to begin knowing God as a loving Father for a long time.  The Bible has so much to say about the topic of God’s love that it is impossible to refute.  However, knowing God loves you as the Perfect Father is pointless unless you also accept that His love is unlike any other’s love.  When you forgive those who have not walked love out well, it releases you to embrace the love of God more fully and to know His freedom.

Today I am praying over you as you walk this path toward God’s unconditional, affectionate, gracious, and active love for you!

in HIM, Tiffany

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