Last Thursday, in “CATHEDRALS! Part 5”, we learned from La Playa de Las Catedrais, the naturally sculpted “cathedral” on the beach in Ribadeo, Spain, that when our advice and assistance is not requested and we can’t do anything to change a situation, we need to simply release it into the hands of the Master builder and pray for God to make something beautiful out of the bad circumstances and decisions.
But what if we release the situation into God’s hands; what if we commit ourselves to prayer and…nothing happens? How can we continue to be supportive by–doing nothing? Isn’t there anything else we can “do”?
Perhaps one of the most famous of all European cathedrals can be found in Wittenberg, Germany. Officially called the “All Saint’s Church”, but commonly known as the “Schlosskirche” or “Castle Church”, this beautiful, 15th century Gothic structure is a magnificent work of architecture. On October 31, 1517, however, the cathedral forever entered the books of history when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses to its door.
Despite its fame, history has not been kind to the All Saint’s Church. During the Seven Years’ War, the church was bombed; and the ensuing fire destroyed almost everything, including the wooden door to which Martin Luther actually nailed his theses. The church was rebuilt, but because of its exposure over the years to wind and weather and the normal wear and tear affecting all great buildings, further restorations have been required. The church was completely renovated in the late 1800s; and in honor of the 500 year anniversary of Protestantism this year, the church is once again undergoing renovations.
This is not a unique occurrence. It is a common sight in Europe to see cathedrals covered in scaffolding, for all buildings are exposed to the eroding properties of wind and weather, many are subjected to fire, and the two great wars have brought about much need to rebuild and restore. Often the churches have to be completely torn down and new structures built in their place, and if you take the time to read through the history of the majority of the cathedrals in Europe, you will find that most have been restored and many have been rebuilt, often from the ground up, sometimes up to three or more times!
In the same way that wind and weather have eroded the magnificent cathedrals, circumstance, as well as poor choices, can significantly impact our lives and the lives of those we love and wish to support. Being there for them, offering advice and help and praying for them will help to stay some of the impact of the circumstances and poor choices; however, when our advice goes completely unheeded, when our offer of help is completely ignored, or when the circumstances are completely outside of our or their control, there will be negative consequences. What is our role then?
Most would be tempted to sit back and say, “I told you so. If you had only listened…” This kind of a reaction, however, won’t change anything. It is kind of like saying to the All Saint’s Church, “I told them not to put so much wood in your construction! Now look! All burned down!” In fact, the “I told you so” attitude will only serve to push us even farther from the lives of those we wish to support.
Besides prayer and surrender into God’s hands, then, what is our role when we’ve been forced to sit and watch those we care about going through tough times?
Let’s again take lessons from the Master Father, the God of the universe. When He was forced to do nothing in the face of the destructive choice of Adam and Eve in the garden; when He had to sit back and watch the horrific consequences of that choice, He didn’t say, “I told you so!” Instead, He was there with a solution: He sent Jesus to provide a way out of that poor choice, to reconcile us once again to God. He was there to help us pick up the pieces, to show us the way to recover from that bad choice: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT).
Our role, then, is to follow God’s example. Just like the state of Germany is stepping up to fund the restoration of the All Saints’ Church, we must resolve to do everything in our power to rebuild and restore. Those who are hurting need to know that we are there for them, no matter what.
What does this look like?
When that marriage falls apart, the one you advised against in the first place, you are there to humbly hold them up, to comfort and to assist in any way possible.
When the student loan money is completely wasted because that young person didn’t heed your advice and stay in school, you are there to humbly comfort them, to encourage them, to hold their hand through it.
When the car you advised against buying breaks down and strands the one you care about, you are there to humbly pick them up, drive them to work, and assist them in getting the car fixed or replaced.
Remember that sometimes it takes these kinds of situations to help people realize their need to listen to advice!
Oh, and just one more thought…Perhaps a vital part of being supportive has to do with forgiveness. We must forgive the ones who refuse to listen or accept our advice and help.
This is the last part of the “CATHEDRALS!” mini-series. If you have missed any parts of this series, you will find them by clicking here. Or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to forward them to you. Meanwhile, may God bless you abundantly as you lovingly support those you care about by committing them into God’s hands through prayer, and then being there for them to help them pick up the pieces.
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the entire “Cathedrals! Lessons on Being Supportive” mini-series, Click here.)