A Father to the Fatherless

24 Aug

Psalm 68:5,  “A father of the fatherless and a judge of the widows is God in his holy habitation.”

Yesterday, preparing to go to the Midwest to look at a possible college for our son, I got a little weepy.  Well, a lot weepy.

Parents have a special relationship to their children, one that most of us feel we should do more than we do to cultivate.

I think that parental guilt about not doing more is probably the sign of a healthy, thriving relationship.

While planning our route to southeast Wisconsin, which will probably pass right through Chicago, I was remembering various trips to Chicago in my youth.  I was last there when I was in my mid-20’s, visiting a friend.

I also got a letter from my mom yesterday, with eight photos I never knew existed, taken the month of my high school graduation (and surprise 18th birthday party).

There was a photo of a dear friend who has died.  There was  also a photo of my high school best friend, with whom I have somehow fallen out of contact since our 20th reunion in 1996.

That friend reminded me of Chicago, too.

She and I listened to a song on the radio back then that went to #1.  It was called “The Winds of South Chicago” and was by a group called Garden.

I can’t find it anywhere on the Internet now.  Well, one European site will sell a copy for around $40.

Maybe it is better this way.  I think we memorized the words.  The music was probably melodramatic and distracting anyway.

One verse, the best I recall it, went:

“Child of South Chicago, with childish dreams around you

You missed the kiss that found you, in the darkness as he tried to say goodbye,

And now Chicago will seem a little colder when someone who has told her has left her room forgetting how to hold her.

Chorus:  Who’s gonna tell her Daddy’s gone?

Who’s gonna tell her life goes on (and on and on)?

Who’s gonna tell her Daddy’s gone, that means gone for good, that means from now on . . .

And the winds of South Chicago will blow .  . .”

Leaving aside the fact that the words are the attempt of a white writer in the era of the Civil Rights movement to explain the realities of a black child (so, historically, they are far from perfect), the imagery of that song pricks me to the heart even now.

If we are not careful, we Americans, both black and white, both conservative and liberal, can come to see the tragedy of the fatherless home as a huge problem that only grows by tens of thousands of children every year.  We can see it in terms of numbers of children abandoned.

God sees it in the heart of every single individual child waking up to realize that Daddy is gone for good.  He understands that every single one of those hearts cries out, then grieves.  He knows that every single one of those hearts wonders what they did wrong to send Daddy away.

It is almost a grief beyond measure to contemplate the collective number of tears shed by children, black and white and other races, abandoned by their daddies.

Because it is such a huge grief, we tend to not want to think about it.

God thinks about it.  God feels it.  He wants us to love as He loves.  He calls us to help in various ways.

The main thing all children need to know is that God is their Father.  He wants to be in relationship to them.  He promises He will be a special Father to the fatherless.

That is the living bread we provide.  But the Bible says if that living bread is offered to someone who doesn’t have actual bread to eat, it won’t be heard.

My best friend in high school, mentioned above, had parents who took in foster children.  Since we lived in a nearly all-white area back then, I met some of the first black people I ever knew in the crib at my friend’s house.

Her parents didn’t save every black child from fatherlessness.  But they did their part to rescue a few from poverty and introduce them to the Savior.  And we can, too.  


Note:  I realize that some may be shocked that I have focused almost exclusively on fatherlessness in the black community.  I know that it is a problem elsewhere, too.  It is just that God is breaking my heart right now with the state of racial relations in this country.  We think if we don’t use the words “black” and “white” that we can paper over the underlying issues and they won’t really exist.  That approach is not working, folks.

I believe we are literally breaking our Lord’s heart with the racially ugly remarks we make when we are not “on the record.”  I have heard both conservatives and liberals dehumanize blacks.  And I understand a lot of ugly things are stated against whites in our black communities.  We all need to realize that God is having none of that.  He has created us all and wants to be a Father to us all in every way.

We need to do away with the idol of supposed racial superiority, whichever way we have internalized that one.  It is sin.


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