Jesus kept coming back to this central issue, over and over, driving at it in his teachings, his parables, his penetrating questions. If you look again, through the lens that most of us feel fundamentally fatherless, I think you’ll find it very close indeed to the center of Jesus’ mission. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?” (Matt. 7:9–10 NIV). Well? We rush ahead to the rest of the passage, but I think Jesus is asking us a real question and he wants a real answer. I expect he paused here, his penetrating, compassionate eyes scanning the listeners before him. Well? I hesitate. I guess you’re right. I wouldn’t, and apart from the exceptionally wicked man, I can’t think of any decent father—even if he is self-absorbed—who would do such a thing. Jesus continues, “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!” (v. 11 NIV).
He is trying to speak to our deepest doubt about the universe.
Look at the birds of the air. Consider the lilies in the field. Are you not much more valuable to your true Father than they? (Matt. 6:26, 28). Hmmm. I’m not sure how to answer. I mean, of course, there’s the “right” answer. And then there is the wound in our hearts toward fatherhood, and there is also the way our lives have gone. “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” (Matt. 18:12 NIV). Yet another question, pressing into the submerged fears in our hearts, another question wanting another answer. Well? Wouldn’t he? “And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost” (vv. 13–14 NIV).
Wherever you are in your ability to believe it at this moment in your life, at least you can see what Jesus is driving at. You have a good Father. He is better than you thought. He cares. He really does. He’s kind and generous. He’s out for your best.