June 16, 2024

A Father’s Love

A Father's Love

Worship Service – June 16, 2024

A Father’s Story – Ethan Sacks

In thinking about Father’s Day and what the message was going to be, I came across this article about Ethan Sacks. Ethan Sacks is a writer and journalist from New York who is currently writing the ongoing series Star Wars Bounty Hunters for Marvel as well as other various Star Wars titles. He is best known as the comic book writer mostly writing comic books for the Star Wars series. 

In March 2019, Ethan Sachs was sitting at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital, feeling overwhelmed with guilt and fear. His 15-year-old daughter, Naomi, was upstairs in the children’s psychiatric ward hospitalized for major depression and suicidal ideation. I had to look that up, meaning suicidal thoughts. The thoughts going through his head were, maybe I could have been a better parent. I would have caught this earlier if I was a better parent and could have helped her. It caught him totally by surprise as he was sitting there contemplating all these crazy thoughts going through his head. He pulled out an old reporter’s notebook and stared at the blank page. He said, I wanted to come up with a story that would inspire Naomi to want to live. In his notebook, he scrolled out a single sentence. The sentence was, A girl who doesn’t know if she wants to live is the only one that can save all life on earth. 

Over the next few years, that sentence became a fully realized labor of love for both Ethan and Naomi, who is now 20. The result was a comic book called A Haunted Girl. It was co-written by the father-daughter team of Naomi and Ethan. It is about a supernatural horror tale that follows teen heroine Cleo as she navigates life after her suicide attempt and battles a demon apocalypse that only she can prevent. You know how comic books are, they’re crazy. Ethan’s hope for Naomi is that the experience is empowering, but he also wants to reach people and help them through this book. To him, that would be a plus. Naomi had been struggling with anxiety for years. She had begun to experience symptoms of depression. She is quoted as saying, everything felt gray and it was hard to visualize The future. It didn’t seem like things could get better. After Naomi told the school social worker about a suicidal daydream she had, the school called her parents. They said, you need to pick up your daughter. We can’t let her leave by herself. She’s suicidal. Ethan remembers thinking we’re in uncharted territory. With that phone call from school, it began a series of hospital stays, totaling more than 5 weeks, followed by a month of outpatient treatment. 

As Naomi began to improve with therapy and medication, Ethan realized he didn’t want to write a story for his daughter. He needed her help in telling it. Ethan thought by writing this story, it would offer her a release from these repressed emotions, but he also knew that she had an authenticity that he didn’t. He felt together, we can do something better to help than I could do alone. With Naomi’s input the character Cleo became a more realistic hero. Naomi said, “I wanted her to be a little bit miserable because I felt miserable myself. We wanted her to be relatable and to show that it can get better.” Naomi provided details of the techniques that she had been taught and learned during her behavioral therapy. And she added a few quirks from the psych ward. She said one thing I particularly wanted to include was the paper spoons in the hospital. Naomi explains, in my second hospitalization, someone tried to self-harm with plastic utensils, so we only had paper spoons. She said, that did not go well. A lot of us gave up and ate with our hands. 

Naomi talked about returning to school after hospitalization. She said it felt like I was from a different planet and when I came back I didn’t know what to do socially. It was intimidating. Ethan says after writing together that he had a more had more of an understanding of what she went through. Naomi, who had finished her sophomore year at McGill University says the book has provided a measure of progress for her. “I can see how far I’ve come and that’s reassuring,” she says. She hopes the story shares a sense of possibility with readers as well. I want people to know it may not be as smooth as you hope, but there’s a path of feeling happy and content in life. 

Why you ask, does this story remind me of Father’s Day? Because Ethan didn’t abandon his daughter. He did what he could to help his daughter recover. He poured his heart and soul into helping his child. He didn’t give up. He didn’t just let her deal with it by herself. He was there for her in her moment of tragedy. Ethan is the example of what God our Father does for us. 

The Love of our Heavenly Father

Psalm 89:26. “He will cry to me, you are my father, my God, and my rock, and my salvation.” Although this passage is talking about King David and God’s promise to him as the king, I believe we can also claim this promise and call out to our great God, our Father, as God and as a rock of our salvation. Think about it. Think about it. He’s your God. He’s also your Father. He’s also your rock of salvation. God the Father is the one to whom we can pray. 

Matthew 6:9. “Pray then in this way, our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” In this verse, Jesus is teaching his followers about prayer. He’s instructing them how to pray. He is telling them that God is our Father and that he is in heaven and he is the one to whom we can pray. He’s telling us that we don’t have to go through a priest or a pastor or a mediator or anyone else. We have the honor and the direct access to God the Father through Jesus our Lord and Savior. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we can boldly approach the throne of God and talk to him anytime. God the Father is our Abba, which means our daddy. 

Romans 8:15, “for you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons of which we cry out Abba Father.” When a person becomes a Christian he or she gains all the privileges and responsibilities like we talked about last week of a child in God’s family. We can be assured that as a believer in Christ we have been adopted into a family with the most amazing, compassionate, and kindest Father of all. God our Father loves us so much. Evidence of God’s love is sprinkled throughout the scriptures. 

1 John 3:1. “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God”. Such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us because it did not know him. We are his children and he loves us. What a gift, what a privilege we need. And we need to remember that no matter what is going on in our world today, God loves us dearly. That was one of the things in the story on Naomi. I never saw anything mentioned about God, so I don’t know if there’s a religion there. But she said, “No matter what’s going on, it will get better.” So maybe she has that spiritual feeling inside her. Don’t know. I would hope so. God our Father welcomes us into His presence.

Ephesians 3:12, “in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Because of Jesus, we have direct and unimpeded access to God the Father. We can boldly and confidently enter the presence of Almighty God.” This is a promise to hold on to throughout our lives. God our Father is a good father. In our scripture lesson for today, Matthew 7, it tells of our good Father. It tells how our good Father gives good gifts. God is the ultimate perfect parent. We can trust our God to be a good Father, A faithful, just, and trustworthy Father. God the Father cares for us. 

1 Peter 5:6-7 – “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exult you at the proper time, casting all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.” Give all your worries and cares to God. He cares about you. It’s pretty simple. God the Father cares about you. Our God knows everything about us. He knows what we need. He knows what our dreams and our hopes and our fears are. We need to give all our worries and cares to God, for he cares about us. Do not expect everything in life to be good. It will not happen. Do not expect everything in yourself to be good. That will not happen either. But what you can’t expect is this. God will weave everything together for his own beloved children to produce a good result, both in time and for all eternity. Amen.

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