Welcome to part 2 of our five part series called “Caring for Modern Day Orphans (A Bible Study on Caring for Orphans and the Fatherless).” The Bible speaks extensively about caring for orphans and the fatherless. What started as a quick survey of verses about orphans and the fatherless quickly turned into a 6,000 word study which I’ve split into five parts for purposes of this blog. In this study, we will examine what the Bible has to say about orphans and widows, how it applies to children of divorce and children from single parents homes and offer a word of encouragement to children of divorce. A complete pdf file with all five parts will be included with the last installment. The five parts of the series will include:
- The Bible and Children of Divorce
- God Cares for Orphans and the Fatherless
- God’s Instructions to His People When it Comes to the Orphans and the Fatherless (Part 1)
- God’s Instructions to His People When it Comes to the Orphans and the Fatherless (Part 2)
- A Word for Children of Divorce and Children from Single Parent Families
So, let’s get started.
In our last installment, we examined how the biblical commands to take care of orphans and the fatherless are applicable to modern day children of divorce and children from single parent families. Today, let’s have a look at the verses in which God sets forth his attitude and provision for orphans and the fatherless.
God Cares for Orphans and the Fatherless
As Christians, our hope and prayer is that God would continue to sanctify us and make us more like Him. It makes sense then to first examine God’s own view of orphans and the fatherless. What is God’s attitude and actions towards orphans and the fatherless? What can we learn from that when it comes to ministering to children of divorce? Later, we will examine how God instructs His people to care for orphans and the fatherless.
God is Father to the Fatherless
When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are adopted into God’s family and He becomes our Heavenly Father. The father image of God is something found through scripture. It is no surprise, then, that God is also a father to the fatherless. Consider the following words from Psalm 68:
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. [Psalms 68:5 ESV]
God protects those who are in need. He looks out for their well being. If you are a child of divorce, God is the father you may no longer have. He is perfect in every way and will not disappoint us or forsake us. So many children of divorce struggle with the image of God because of the mistakes of their earthly fathers. We should not judge God based on the action of earthly fathers. Rather, we should judge our earthly fathers by the standard of our perfect Heavenly father. As those who work with children of divorce, we must encourage kids to not equate the actions of their earthly fathers with the love of their Heavenly Father. Earthly fathers are fallen, sinful and oftentimes selfish human beings. Our Heavenly Father loves us with a perfect and unfailing love and offers the hope of ultimate healing.
God is Helper to the Fatherless
God is not a distant father either. He does not merely accept the title of “father to the fatherless.” He helps them in their struggles and in their troubles. Psalm 10 tells us:
…to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless. [Psalms 10:14b ESV]
Because He has a special place in His heart for the fatherless, God provides for their needs. He helps them physically, mentally and spiritually. He helps them when they might not even realize they need help. He helps them like a father should help his children. Children of Divorce must be encouraged to go to God in prayer to ask that He would meet their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. As Jesus explained:
What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” [Luke 11:11-13 ESV]
As those who work with children and minister to children of divorce, we long to do all that we can to help hurting children, and we should make every effort to do just that. In the end though, it is only when we point them to their Heavenly Father that their needs can be met fully and completely.
God Protects the Fatherless
We’ve have already see that God is father to the fatherless and that He helps the fatherless. He also serves the role of protector to the fatherless. In Proverbs 23, the Bible warns against transgressing against the fatherless reminding the reader that their protector is strong:
Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless, for their Redeemer is strong; he will plead their cause against you. [Proverbs 23:10-11 ESV]
In the Heavenly Father, the fatherless have someone to turn to who will protect them in their day of trouble. Like children who run to their earthly fathers when something goes bump in the night, God tells the fatherless that He will protect them. There is no safer place than in the arms of our Heavenly Father.
For the child of divorce (the modern day orphan), their lives are replete with changes that they did not ask for. They experience new houses, new neighborhoods, new friends, new schools, new men and women coming into and out of their parents’ live. The list goes on and on. All of these changes, piled on top of an already stressful divorce, very often lead to feelings of fear, anxiety and apprehension. In these times, children of divorce can take comfort in the knowledge that God is there to protect them.
God Upholds the Fatherless
So, we’ve learned that God is father to the fatherless and He helps and protects the fatherless. The Bible also tells us that he upholds the fatherless:
The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. [Psalms 146:9 ESV]
God doesn’t merely help the fatherless, He upholds them. He doesn’t simply hand them a plate of food or a place to live and say, “There you go. Good luck.” He constantly upholds and supports them throughout their journey. The same is true for the child of divorce. When everything else is falling apart, and the world around them seems to be crumbling, the loving hand of God can lift them up. When there seems to be nothing in this world but problems and despair, the comforting arms of God hold them tight. When they feel all alone and face battle after battle just to get by, God’s nail-scarred hands offer healing and hope. Yes, He does not merely provide, He upholds and strengthens the fatherless.
God Provides Justice for the Fatherless
So far, we have seen that God is father to the fatherless. He helps them, upholds them and protects them. We have those specific things God does for the fatherless. He also provides for them, and one of the things He provides is justice. For those who would ignore or take advantage of the child of divorce, God would remind them that He executes justice on their behalf. Consider this verse from Deuteronomy 10:
He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. [Deuteronomy 10:18 ESV]
There are also a number of prayers in the Bible where people pray that God would provide justice to the fatherless, amongst others. Consider the following prayer from Psalm 10:
O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. [Psalms 10:17-18 ESV]
The fatherless, the modern-day orphans, the child of divorce has nothing to fear from man. Our Heavenly Father seeks justice for the oppressed.
What has happened to the child of divorce is in no way fair. It is not something that they asked for, yet they are left to suffer all of the consequences. When things in this life do not seem “fair,” we can rest comfortable knowing that it is God who executes justice. In God, the child of divorce can find solace. In God they have an eternal Heavenly Father who loves them perfectly and will never leave them. The preceding verses make it clear that there is a special place in God’s heart and God’s will for the fatherless.
God not only reveals much about His own attitude towards orphans and the fatherless, He also commands His people regarding this topic. In the next two installments, we’ll review some of the verses where God gives His people commands in this area, and we’ll talk about what we can learn about ministering to children of divorce and children from single parent families from these verses.