Monday, May 27, 2013

Some Thoughts on Death and Grieving

Death is such a permanent thing.

And I mean permanent in the sense that when we lose a loved one here on earth, the joys we share with them can now only be memories.

For we believers, it is true that we will share joys anew around the throne-room of God when we gather on the other shore.  We will in fact again see our brothers and sisters in Christ.

But the loss of a family member or friend here on this shore is, well, such a pang to the heart that the pain is simply hard to describe.  And it is not just one pang... but many.  They grow less frequent with time, but by experience we all know they still come.

Is the word "pang" the right word to describe it?

My father has been gone for over 16 years.  Others too... my uncle, my aunt, my grandparents.

The pangs still come. 

What's been your experience?

"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope." 
-- 1 Thess. 4:13

But we still grieve.  And I would assert... it is not as others... but more deeply and affectionately.  At least, we should.

"Jesus wept." 
-- John 11:35

In fewer than 11 weeks, my dear wife has lost two cherished grandfathers, our oldest daughter has lost her precious grandfather (her biological dad's father), and our beloved cousin Danny was called home after a nearly 2-year bout with brain cancer.  Our hearts mourn the losses, and we pray for comfort and peace for families back home.

As an aside, living in Germany has had its challenges.  To grieve the deaths of loved ones without the loving comfort provided by extended family is not one of the challenges we foresaw.  And likewise, we yearn to provide some measure of loving comfort to those grieving most... but yet, we cannot in ways we'd wish.  This adds another dimension to our grief.

A pastor... who knew all too well the grieving that takes place when someone dear to us dies, for he had lost his wife shortly after she had given birth to their fourth child... wrote these words later in a letter:

"Tears are proper for believers.  Indeed, they should be all the more copious.   For Christians are more sensitively aware of every emotion, whether of joy or of sorrow, than those who have known nothing of the softening and enlivening grace of God."

It hurts.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

When Prayer in School is Still Permitted


On May 20th, a rare EF5 tornado slammed the town of Moore, Oklahoma.  The devastation was unbelievable.  At least 24 are confirmed dead, and dozens more are injured.
Along the tornado's path there were two elementary schools.  Tragically, at least 7 children were killed at Plaza Towers Elementary School.  But at the other, Briarwood Elementary, all miraculously survived.

In an interview with a 2nd grade teacher at the latter school, there are several things that hero Tammy Glasgow said and did that were courageous and inspiring.  (Please watch the interview by clicking the link above.)

Here is a portion of the story:

"....Right before the tornado hit, she hurried students into two bathrooms and a closet. There were about eights boys in the boys' bathroom, including Glasgow's son, and a dozen girls in the girls' bathroom.

She and other adults were with three children in the closet.

"Before I shut the doors, because both bathrooms had doors, I said, 'I'm going to shut these doors,' and I said, 'I love you.' The boys looked at me a little strange. (I) walked in the girls' (bathroom) and said, 'I love you' and they all said 'I love you' back.

"I just told them to pray, and then that's what we did the whole time in the closet, just prayed," said Glasgow.

The storm blasted through..."

Among other things, I see two powerful things in this story:  Love and Prayer.  I thank God for teachers like Tammy Glasgow.  And I thank God that He spared all their lives, and enabled Tammy to tell this amazing story.

Love.  She loved her students, as if they were her own children.  She cared for them, and told them to do what was right and what was good for them... and she provided protection for them in the storm.  She loved them.  Oh, how she loved them.  It reminds me of Someone else I know.  And because she loved them, she taught them and commanded them to pray.

Prayer.  Prayer is powerful because of the One we beseech.  Will the ACLU move to prosecute this teacher for telling her students to pray?  No.  Is it okay to remove prayer from schools, except when a tornado is coming?  No.

Will God be glorified, in spite of our own depravity as a nation?  Yes.

"Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up;  God is our salvation.  Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death." (Psalm 68:19,20) 

I thank God for Tammy Glasgow... and for others I know that are like her.