Generally speaking, people recognize the significance of the father in the family. British poet George Herbert (1593 – 1633) wrote that "One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters." Sigmund Freud (1856 –1939) an Austrian neurologist, said, "I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection." (Some mothers may not agree with Herr Freud!)
Of course, this doesn't mean we have always done a good job in filling the role of father as it is needed.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). As fathers, men bear a tremendous responsibility in the home. And it has never been more important that men recognize and live up to that responsibility than now.
I want to use two true stories — one ancient and one modern — to provide the basis for our thinking about the importance of fathers.
The first story is one with which most are familiar — that of the death of David's son Absalom, who tried to usurp his father's throne — not an unusual story among those who inhabit the royal homes of history. But Absalom's home was different. His father was the king of the nation of Israel, and God's favorite son among the Israelite kings.
Absalom's treachery led to his death at the hand of the king’s military leader. David's lament is surely the most mournful in scripture: “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”
David was a rich man and successful man, in almost every way imaginable. But David lost his son...and there are no second chances with sons. If your house blows away or burns to the ground, you can rebuild it. But if you lose your son, there's no way to replace him. There is nothing but a grim finality to it, and the knowledge that "he's gone."
The second story is a modern one...that of a young man named Pat Vance. Pat had a birth defect that made it necessary to have his right leg amputated at the knee and replaced with a prosthesis when he was 7 months old. He was 5 years old before he learned that there were children who didn't have to take their leg off before having a bath or going to bed. In spite of the prosthesis, Pat had a pretty normal childhood.
But he did have a lot of physical pain, requiring a number of operations to relieve pain. Before he was 10 months old, he had to have 15 procedures.
Pat's dad was an engineer who worked for NASA. When he saw the difficulties the prosthesis caused, he quit his job and signed up for a one year apprenticeship with a limb maker, at no salary. Then, using his training as an engineer, he began experimenting with new designs and materials to make a better limb for his boy. If Pat had a problem with one of the pieces, his dad would stay up all night to repair it so he could go to school the next day.
As Pat tells his story to others, the biggest point he wants to make is that love is shown in many different ways between parents and children. It doesn't always have to be in a big display of emotion. Love is also shown by the willingness to be faithful to the relationship when the going gets tough.
May God help every father look to the Lord for the guidance they need, and follow it faithfully.