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Opinions of Sunday, 18 June 2017

Columnist: Daniel Gyebi

Fathers, is anything too hard for the Lord?

Today is Father’s Day. It is the day set aside to honour all fathers in many countries. I salute all fathers for their enormous contributions to society. I pray that God will grant all fathers everywhere the divine resources needed to become the kind of fathers He wants us to be.

Fatherhood is exciting and challenging. Children are a blessing from God, and many fathers who hold their newly-born babies for the first time experience excitement that is beyond description. The honour of being a conduit of God’s blessings should be cherished and embraced.

My own excitement as a first-time father was different from many others’. I received the news in the U.S. on Tuesday, June 2, 1987, via a telegraphic message from my wife in Ghana, which simply read, “GIRL AND BOY 27/5.” I understood that correctly to mean that my wife had delivered twins --a girl and a boy-- on May 27, 1987. In particular, the part about twins was a pleasant surprise to me so my excitement was doubled. That was the only time I did not attend classes because I was too excited to drive 30 miles from my home in Concord, California to California State University at Hayward where I was taking part-time evening classes for my master’s degree in economics. Economics could wait for one day; it was time to give praises and thanks to the Lord.

Those were the days when communication between Ghana and the U.S. was very challenging. Every word or character in the cablegram or telegram meant money taken out of one’s pocket so the message had to be as brief as possible. For the most part, to make an international call from the U.S. to Ghana, one had to book 24 hours in advance through an operator in London and hope it would go through.

Today, thanks to advancements in information and communications technology, calls can be made from the U.S. to many remote parts of Ghana. Money, too, can be sent and received almost instantaneously through Western Union, MoneyGram, and other means. Therefore, while there are still some tough challenges for everyone everywhere, the ways through which fathers abroad can perform part of their responsibilities to their children, spouses, and other family members at home have expanded greatly and made fatherhood easier. Note that I did not say easy.

Many men take for granted that they can become fathers anytime they want. In most cases, they are right. However, it was not so for Abraham, the father of our Christian faith. Becoming a father was not easy for him. God chose Abraham and told him to leave his country and people to another land and that He would make him into a great nation, bless him, and bless all people on earth through him. Abraham obeyed God and left with his wife Sarah and nephew Lot; Abraham was 75 years old (Genesis 12:1-3). Abraham had no child at that time because his wife could not bear children.

Fast forward. Abraham turned 99 years, continued to believe in God, but did not have a child with his wife Sarah who was 90 years old. However, God had not forgotten about His promise to make Abraham into a great nation. God revealed Himself to Abraham, renewed His covenant with him, and declared that he would establish a covenant with his son Isaac whom Sarah would bear the following year (Genesis 17:21).

Then, in Genesis Chapter 18, God revealed Himself again to Abraham in the form of three men. Abraham recognised them as God and offered them the best hospitality he could. They renewed the earlier promise that Sarah would have a son the following year. When Sarah heard it, she doubted and laughed. The Lord asked, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). In fulfilment of the promise, Isaac was born the following year when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 or 91 years old.

And so, fathers, is anything too hard for the Lord? Absolutely not! Like Abraham, many fathers and others are going through problems, struggles, and challenges – some physical, others spiritual; some economic and beyond our control, others self-inflicted. The combined effect of these can be overwhelming for many of us and test our faith and belief in the Almighty God.

The good news is that we serve a living God who knows our needs, wants, and desires and is ready, willing, and able to help us through our problems, struggles, and challenges. What we need to do is to start or continue to pray, believe, trust, obey, and have faith in God and God alone. Searching around for all kinds of powers and serving the ‘powers that be’ are not helpful. A double-minded person who worships other gods may not obtain the full favour of God and may incur the wrath of the Almighty God. The Bible tells us that Abraham believed the Lord, and the Lord credited it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3). And we know that righteousness paves the way for God’s favour, mercy, and grace to flow in abundance.

In that encounter between God and Abraham in Genesis 18 mentioned above, Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent in broad daylight and saw God, represented by the three men, near the great trees of Mamre. Abraham recognised them, so he hurried to meet them, bowed to them, and entertained them with food and drink. The superb hospitality displayed by Abraham probably caused the men to share with him again the prophecy of a son to be born the following year.

Fortunately, Abraham recognised the three men of God. Today, when we are suspicious of each other and impugn bad motives to many people, would we recognise God if we saw Him standing in front of us? We meet men and women of God more frequently than we think, without recognising them. We meet them at work, in the street, in Church, at home, at the market, at social gatherings, and in many other ordinary places. We need to pray to God to open our eyes so that we can see Him clearly each time He reveals Himself to us. It is worth remembering what Jesus said that whatever we do to the least of the brothers, we do unto him (Matthew 25:40).

As fathers, let’s pray that God would provide us with all the resources we need to perform our responsibilities faithfully despite the many challenges. Let’s pray that God would open our eyes to recognise the good in all our children. That child you are not taking proper care of today because you do not see any potential in him or her could become somebody great in future. That child you see as a liability today may be the one to wipe out all your liabilities in future. Jesse, the father of David, did not see David as a king material. When Jesse paraded seven of his sons before the Prophet Samuel for the prophet to select one of them as king, he did not include his youngest son David who had been sent to tend the sheep. In the end, however, it was David who was anointed as king and became the greatest King of Israel (1 Samuel Chapter 16).

Fatherhood is a collaborative concept which works better in a team environment. The unity among father, mother, and child should remain strong and unbroken. It takes a mother and a child to make a father. Without a mother, there will be no father; without a father, there will be no mother; and without a child, there will be no father or mother. Therefore, I salute mothers and children, too, as we celebrate Father’s Day.

Finally, fathers, always remember that when God wanted to build a great nation, he chose a childless couple headed by a 75-year old man and his wife who was in her mid-60s. There is hope for all of us because God is able. Whatever your problems, struggles, and challenges, God can do it for you. There is nothing too hard for the Lord. May the blessings of the Almighty God be upon all of us in Jesus name.

Happy Father’s Day.

Prayer is the key. May God grant us the grace to seek Him daily through our prayers.

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