They Do Exist.

What I Learned In 2011: God Is A Good Dad

Editor’s Note: No child escapes childhood without scars, and when all of us have imperfect fathers, it is nearly impossible to see God for the Father that He is. Today’s post was written by Ruthie Dean. She blogs at and tweets at @_ruthiedean. She’s also written, “Dating Mistakes: I Can Change Him” and “Being Single: Are Christians Allowed To Be Sexy?” for us.  Lauren

I was afraid.

Afraid God would continue to take away people closest to me or strike me with terminal illness or cause terrible suffering – in the vein of refinement. I was afraid God wanted to punish me.

2011 meant wedding bells for me. I married the love of my life and our reception was out of the movie Sabrina. I landed my dream job working in a publishing house. I am the luckiest Mrs. in the world in terms of in-laws (amazing). I found a group of women who will be lifelong friends.

But in the midst of it all, I was wrestling in very dark places. My heart felt like it was ripped from my chest. I felt betrayed. I felt very alone. I remembered – and I hated what I remembered. Some days I would have to tell myself just to keep breathing. Just keep breathing.

Have you been there?

In the midst of all the confusion and pain, I was still a Christian which meant I believe in a God who is in control. I would have told you God is full of love and doesn’t punish His children just for the sake of punishment. Yet my heart believed differently. The belief that God was punishing me for some unknown offense crept in. Occasionally, I would ask Him to show me WHAT sin I had committed to illicit such extreme measures. I caught myself thinking of God as cruel taskmaster, thinking “I told her not to” as He sent down “punishment” from heaven.

If you believe there is a God who is all-powerful, loving, and at work in the lives of people, have you ever been tempted to believe God is punishing you when things start to go wrong? You don’t get a job, everyone else has found their soulmate except you, or something tragic happens.

Do you ever feel like God is punishing you? Or that He just doesn’t care about you?

Well, I did, and it was only through wrestling through these questions that I’ve come out on the other side. One Sunday, I was almost in tears as my husband was about to leave for a road trip. Please, please, please be careful. I begged. I just can’t to go on if something happens to you.

He touched my arm, put down his bags, and led me over to the couch.

“God is not out to punish you, Ruthie. He’s not going to take me away,” he said softly as I silently wept.

“But how do you know? What if it’s His plan?” I managed to string words together.

We talked for a long time. I sat staring at the ceiling after he left and finally prayed.

“God, I’m scared of you. I just don’t want to experience any more pain. Why is all this happening?”

Something changed inside me that Sunday afternoon. I sat down and wrote a blog post entitled God Isn’t Punishing You. I still wasn’t sure I believed it, but writing helped.

The Bible is full of references to God as a loving Father, as well as many about God’s anger and discipline – confusing and seemingly contradictory. We see God’s anger burning against people in both the Old and New Testament, but also verses about God as a loving Father. Romans 8:15 says God adopted us as His own children.

I’ve heard most people get their perspective of God from their fathers. Fathers who leave cause children to believe God will leave them too. Fathers who abuse can create children fearful God will act in similar manner. Absent fathers leave children wondering if God even exists. Regardless, no father is perfect. We all have flawed relationships with our dads and it is helpful for each of us to look through the lens of our relationships and note commonalities. God is the only perfect Dad.

My view of God was broken in many ways. The flaw with thinking God is punishing me is the belief that God acts according to my character. But he doesn’t. The Bible is full of examples of people deserving punishment, deserving to be cut off from God, and deserving an eternity in hell. But God gives them mercy, grace, forgiveness and eternal life. And He’s done it for me and for you.

Ever so slowly, I’ve chipped away at the lie I believed for so long. I’m learning to trust and learning to turn from fear. God is not a cruel taskmaster, but a loving Father. And He adopted me!

God is not out to harm us or destroy us; He is longing to give us the richest blessings we can possibly imagine.

God takes pleasure in giving us grace abundantly. He is longing to bless us – in the midst of trials and suffering and persecution and confusion – because He is a good Dad.

How has your relationship with your father affected your relationship with God? Do you see God as a loving Father or as a cruel taskmaster?

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10 Responses

  1. Wow. I so needed this. The absense of my father in my life has haunted me for many years… thinking God must be just like him, the man I've never known. Slowly, each day, God is showing me He is my loving Father. Not like my own earthly dad who isn't there for me, He is there for me always. God bless you!

    December 19, 2011 at 12:03 pm

  2. Gardenia

    This is so me. Thanks for posting it!

    December 19, 2011 at 5:15 pm

  3. Leslie

    Thanks Ruthie! I absolutely love your thoughts! This is such an important topic to discuss. It seems quite the "in thing" these days to find a book or a church or a movement that fits our idea of who God is. We like things we understand because it makes us feel safer … more secure. So, we put God in a box or we label Him a certain way. But take heart! You reminded us that we do not need to do this because GOD IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS!!! And now we can spend our lives learning about His character and His promises. And as we truly come to know God as our loving Father (compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, kind, forgiving and just) then we will grow to be trusting children.

    December 19, 2011 at 6:07 pm

  4. This was beautiful. I think I'll have to re-read it several times for it to soak in!

    December 19, 2011 at 9:03 pm

  5. Erica

    Ruthie-you have hit it dead on! On my worst days I feel like God has left me and doesn’t want to see me. That’s because like you said it has to do with our personal view of our earthly fathers. I didn’t get the love from him but Im grateful for this that you have written cause it’s the Holy Spirit’s voice letting us know who the ulti!!mate father truly is in our lives

    December 21, 2011 at 12:14 am

  6. chelsea

    Ruthie – Can you please link th eblog post that you wrote? I just searched your site but couldn't find it. I am interested in your process of recognizing that God wasn't punishing you. Thanks. :)

    December 21, 2011 at 6:52 pm

  7. Ragan

    I absolutely resonate with this. No matter how many times I hear the truth that God loves unconditionally I cannot deeply hold on to that truth. I pray that I have a moment like you did on the couch that sunday. Until then I’ll just let Him keep teaching me ever so slowly. Thanks for this. :)

    December 28, 2011 at 4:06 am

  8. Katie

    Thanks for posting this, I can so relate. Slowly I am letting go of the lies and the fears and replacing them with the wonderful promises of God. It is good to know that others struggle with the same thing and to know God can overcome the lies and continues to bless and love us.

    January 27, 2012 at 6:57 am

  9. CLH

    Thank you so much.

    April 3, 2012 at 7:21 pm

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