5 Ways to Help Our Family…Will You Pick 2?

we-are-n

The letter ‘N’, or the Arabic symbol pictured here, is used by ISIS to mark the homes of the Christians they are murdering, capturing, and driving from Iraq. The Islamic terrorist group chose this letter because it stands for the Nazarene,that is Jesus of Nazareth. It represents the One the Iraqi Christians claim as their Lord, and the One that makes us family.

Hundreds of thousands of people  around the world have adopted the letter and joined the #WeAreN campaign to show solidarity with Iraqi Christians. And we should too. I have half a mind to go and paint the letter on the outside of my apartment right now.

This is just one, simple way we can begin to answer  the question I posed in my previous blog: what can we do to help our family? But we need to do more.

I’m writing today to ask for your help.

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My Family is Being Murdered. What do I do?

If my family in Texas was being driven from their home, starved, and murdered, there is no question what I would do.

I would board the next flight to DFW, run to the aid of my family, and fight to the death to protect everyone with the last name Greer.

The truth is, I would board that flight and run to their defense for much less than eviction and murder. Much, much less.

Iraq Girl - James Gordon CC

Image Credit: James Gordon via CC

 

So what do I do when my family in Iraq is being chased into the dessert, starved, beaten and possibly shot or beheaded because they are Christians? 

What do we do? 

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Grief and Hope, Hope and Grief

Nicholas Wolterstorff in the book The Incomplete One makes a profound statement about grief and hope in the face of death. He writes, “Though grief does not smother hope, neither does hope smother grief.”

Death is a reality everyone must face, and it presents a distinct and important challenge for the Christian. St. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, wrote , “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” And yet, in another letter the apostle wrote “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Wolterstorff, St. Paul, and all of us who have lost a loved one who is a follower of Christ wrestle with the same dichotomy.

For the living, the death of a loved one is a tragic and painful loss. The pain is acute and lasting, and the reality that death is not how life should end comes into sharp focus. We mourn, we cry, we live in sorrow.

For the deceased in Christ, death is a release, a passage, an opening. The joy is acute and lasting, and the reality that life with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is life in its most grand fulfillment is brought into sharp focus. They worship, they rest, they live in peace and wonder.

It’s sometimes difficult to remember that one does not rid our lives of the other.

“Though grief does not smother hope, neither does hope smother grief.”

I watched my grandfather live out this truth in beautiful ways. He lost his precious bride, Everma Jo Girard, when she passed away on October 15th, 2002 after 58 years of marriage. My grandfather grieved deeply. He experienced a sadness and loss I cannot even hope to understand as a husband of only three months. My grandmother Jo was his best friend, his faithful wife, and the love of his life.

And as much as his last 10 years have been marked with grief, they have been equally marked with hope. My Grandfather knew Jesus and faithfully rested in the hope that he too, one day, would go home. On that day he would meet his Savior and would experience him just as his wife was. This truth filled him with hope.

Grief and hope. Hope and grief.

This Saturday my family will bury my grandfather, Cecil Meshew Girard. “Granddad.” A faithful, quiet, loving, strong, hopeful, convicted, loyal, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and follower of Christ.

And because we love him dearly – we grieve. Deeply. Today we miss him and want him back.

And because we trust Christ – we hope. Deeply. One day we will join him and won’t ever look back.

Our hope will not be overwhelmed by our grief, and neither will our grief be overwhelmed by our hope.

– – – – – – – – – – –

I thank God for Granddad. He followed God. He pursued what was right. He respected all people. He loved deeply. He lived well.

Today he is Home – and in my grief I celebrate for him.

Cecil Meshew Girard
April 17, 1923 – February 3, 2013

Grandad