By: Tom Norvell

Vol. 14 No. 29 | July 18, 2011

I began stringing together the words for this article while sitting in the maternity area of a local hospital waiting to meet my new great-niece. My wife and I were there holding spots for both sets of parents until they could arrive. When the 6 pound, 14 ounce gift from God made her appearance in the world she was given a reception of love and adoration that can only be explained by her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and extended family as we celebrated with prayers of gratitude. The news of her birth quickly spread across the country to other members of the family. This is what a family does.

As the celebration extended into the weekend, in another part of the country a different segment of our family gathered for a family reunion. During their time together you can be certain that stories were told about our grandparents, about our parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. There were probably stories that triggered tears, there were surely stories that produced laughter, and there were stories that created moments of silence and times of reflection. There were photos from our heritage that brought back memories. There were photos taken that will be memories at future reunions. This is what a family does.

While this family was reflecting on our heritage and celebrating our future, in other parts of the country other members of our family were going about their business, celebrating the birth from long distance, and making memories of their own that will one day be talked about at future family gatherings. That is what a family does.

As the weekend progressed in yet another part of the country, a son and a daughter were receiving the sudden and earth-shaking news of their fatherís death. In the coming days they will be surrounded by their grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, and church family as they attempt to sort through the details, and deal with the feelings of shock, disbelief, and sadness. They will depend on friends and family for strength. They will look to God for answers to questions they never dreamed they would be asking. They will begin the process of grieving, search for understanding, and pray for healing. That is what a family does.

As these families cope with the joys and sorrows of being a family, another bigger family that stretches around the globe rallies around these families and others like them to provide hope where there is no hope, strength where there is no energy, and comfort for those who struggle. This family will provide nourishment for the body as well as the soul. This family will bring a spirit of calm to chaos, a breath of refreshment to the weary, and will be a source of wisdom to face the days ahead. That is what a family does.

I am reminded of these words from Psalm 127:

Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eató
for he grants sleep to those he loves.

Children are a heritage from the LORD,
offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in oneís youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.

Father, thank You for our family...for Your family.


© Copyright 2011 Tom Norvell. All rights reserved.