“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”
Seven months before the first observance of Father’s Day, there was little thought about celebrating fathers. On December 6, 1907, the people of Monongah, W.V., were a lot more concerned about the lives of their fathers, who had been trapped in the town’s mine. By the end of the day, 367 people had been killed in the mine’s shafts; of that number, 250 had been fathers, and about 1,000 children were left fatherless. To date, it is still the largest mining disaster in American history.
The next year, Anna Jarvis in nearby Grafton, W.V., staged the first-ever Mother’s Day celebration. Perhaps inspired by Miss Jarvis, Grace Golden Clayton approached her pastor, Robert Thomas Webb, with an idea – spend one Sunday honoring all fathers, and especially those who died in the Monongah disaster. Pastor Webb agreed and devoted the entire service to fathers.
Sadly, that day did not become the genesis for a nationwide observance of a Father’s Day. A more formal observance came two years later in Spokane, Wash., but it wasn’t until 1966 when the day was observed nationally by a decree issued by President Lyndon Johnson. And it wasn’t officially declared a holiday in the United States until 1970.
Sadly, that’s pretty much standard for fathers. This country has long recognized the contributions of mothers but has been incredibly slow to herald the value of fathers. Back when long distance calls were still a thing, Mother’s Day was the No. 1 long-distance calling holiday of the year. As for Father’s Day? That was the No. 1 collect calling day of the year. In other words, people didn’t hesitate to call their mothers to wish them well and remind them that they love them. And they also didn’t hesitate to call their fathers and ask him to pay for the call.
Honestly, a loving mother is vital to the emotional and spiritual health of a child. But a loving father is equally important, and for some reason, our society has lost sight of that. Many fathers don’t even realize how vital they are to the healthy upbringing of their children, and the media has continually cast fathers as bumbling, foolish and inept. The truth is that a godly father can make the difference for their children between health and dysfunction. They also are the primary reminder of what a wonderful spiritual father we have in God Almighty.
Today, remember the contributions of your own father to your life. If your own father wasn’t involved in your life, think of someone who filled that role in your life. Thank God for him and for what he taught you. Dads, make sure that your own children don’t have a void in their lives. Be certain to let them know today how thankful you are that they made you a father. And children, don’t let the day pass without calling your Dad and thanking him for his love and guidance.
Reflection copyright © 2017 Doug DeBolt
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.