There is an online blogger who frequently describes the emotional abuse he received from his father when he was growing up. It took him years to work through this trauma and, with the help of his therapist, he has made some progress. His blogs are his way of healing and moving forward. He states that he now forgives his father, who is deceased. However, his blogs belie this and he blames his father for the fact that he was never able to have a successful romantic relationship. He spent most of his adult life coming to terms with this relationship. Although he can now openly discuss it, he still holds a great deal of bitterness, anger, and resentment toward his father. Family relationships are complex. The Bible gives us many examples including this one involving Abraham, the patriarch of the Jewish people. Abraham had two sons. The first was with his wife’s maid, Hagar, who gave birth to Ishmael. Years later, Abraham’s wife Sarah gave birth to Isaac. Inevitably jealousy arose between the two women and Sarah demanded Abraham banish Hagar and Ishmael.
The child grew and was weaned, and Abraham held a great feast on the day Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son mocking—the one Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham. So she said to Abraham, “Drive out this slave with her son, for the son of this slave will not be a coheir with my son Isaac!” This was very distressing to Abraham because of his son. But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed about the boy and about your slave. Whatever Sarah says to you, listen to her, because your offspring will be traced through Isaac, and I will also make a nation of the slave’s son because he is your offspring.” Early in the morning Abraham got up, took bread and a waterskin, put them on Hagar’s shoulders, and sent her and the boy away. She left and wandered in the Wilderness of Beer-sheba.
Genesis 21:8-14 (CSB)
I can imagine the bitter feelings and confusion Ishmael was feeling as he was driven away from his own home with his mother. God did keep His promise and created a great nation around Ishmael and his descendants. Was this enough to overcome the bitterness? Did Ishmael ever reconcile with his father? The Bible later records this touching scene when Abraham died many years later.
His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre…
Genesis 25:9 (CSB)
Perhaps Ishmael was able to move forward with his life since he returned to honor his father upon his passing. Was it easy for him to do this? Did he ever forgive his father? The Bible does not give us any insight but I am certain it could not have been easy. We all have fathers and some of us have the privilege to be a father. My father was not perfect and neither am I. Although I did not suffer the emotional abuse that the blogger or Ishmael did, there are still many scars that I carry. While I did learn from my father’s mistakes, I know I have still hurt my children by an unwise choice or an unkind word.
Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4 (CSB)
God reminds us to be uplifting role models for our children. While we learn from our fathers and parents, we all have a Heavenly Father who unconditionally loves us. He is the Father that must be our role model. Only He can perfectly love and guide us through faith and belief in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.