Struggles of Men
Recently I watched several videos about popular male gospel singers who struggled in their personal lives and in their relationships to God. One theme in the videos and for some of my relatives and former clients was the broken father-son relationship. My own father suffered a lack of confidence from his father to be a financial partner in managing the family farm. And these themes seem to repeat from one generation to the next, complete with frustration and pain. I have often wondered why so many men seem to struggle in their spiritual lives, often lacking a desire to partner with God.
Why is it so hard for a father to say these words before he dies: “Son, I’m proud of you”? To find one thing that he could affirm for his child— young or old. To lay his hands upon the shoulders of that boy/man and give him a blessing. How might that alone heal a wounded heart and give a man much hope for his future as a leader, father, or worker?
Cosmic Spiritual War
All of this goes much deeper within a cosmic spiritual war. I believe there is a strong crossover from a man’s understanding or absence of his father, and to that of his beliefs about God. Of course, this impacts women also. Perhaps that is one reason that Satan, enemy of our souls, targets men’s hearts with lies about God resulting in the “trickle-down effect” for families and history. God the Father can represent protection, honor, and love—or he can be imagined with punishment, disappointment, and abandonment.
In the Bible, Genesis 1 gives us a man created in God’s image. Then God gave the man work to do, (Genesis 2:15), warned him about the tree of Good and Evil (verses 16-17), and created a partner for him (verses 18, 20-25). These life elements seem to be critical for most men. Sadly, we read the beautiful Eden story disintegrate and we are still reaping the consequences in our families.
Show Us the Father
We now know that values, choices, environment and diet epigenetically influence gene expression—turns them on or off. It seems that the worst outcome of original man’s choices was the failure to trust God with the resulting damage to the very image of God in humans. It is crucial for everyone to get to know Jesus Christ so he can help restore the image of God.
One of Jesus’ disciples, Philip, said to him, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us” (John 14:8, NIV). Men have been asking to see the Father before, and ever since. And if we can somehow absorb the message of John 14-18, we will see Jesus and the Father are the same; he will not leave us and he will send a gift (John 14:18; 16:13); Jesus loves us like the Father, and we are to love each other (John 15:9-12). Best of all, Jesus chose us to bear his characteristics (John 15:16).
My grandsons like to talk about action heroes and their “super powers.” Perhaps we all expect the wrong stuff from earthly fathers—especially by their sons. What if the real super powers are spiritual gifts (I Corinthians 12: 1-11)? And so men might miss the flashes of God’s image in their fathers or the ways that God provides other fathers for them. Those men who follow God’s commission to love for him, need eyes to see boys and men who can be mentored to seek God. He is the father that we have all longed for, and the desire in every heart. He is the one that seeks us, loves us, empowers us and will raise us up to have eternal life with him (John. 6:40).
I would ask each man as he shuts his eyes at night to imagine Jesus saying to you, “Son, you make my heart glad and I love you” (Zephaniah 3: 17).
Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:
- Why do you think it’s so hard for men to affirm their own sons?
- How has God been showing you the Father?
*Your group or class might enjoy discussing the book, Wild at Heart, by Christian author John Eldredge.
Karen Spruill writes from Florida.
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