Just about anywhere, along any road in Mississippi, one sees barns, homes, and former businesses in various states of disrepair and ruin. They might be in a field off the road or right next to an inhabited structure. I’ve even driven past rows of these derelict buildings in some little towns, both along country two-lanes and major national highways. Some are missing merely a part of the roof or a few window panes. Others are falling down, collapsing under the weight of the years. Still more are piles of rubble, the leftovers from fire or storm or demolition. Whatever they look like, wherever they are, they have one thing in common: they have been abandoned. And nobody has cared enough, or could afford, to rebuild them.

When someone’s life is in ruins, there are any number of responses possible, depending in part on the situation, I suppose. We could refuse to help in any way, if the person in our opinion is responsible for his or her own downfall. We might want to offer assistance, but decide we can’t do anything, because our friend or family member is too far gone. We might even contribute to a further downfall, out of spite or revenge or our own sense of justice. Or we could try to help, but then give up after awhile out of exhaustion, frustration or because the person simply doesn’t want our help. Some of these responses amount to intentional abandonment; others, much the same as the owner of a building or members of a community not having the resources to help rebuild.

A much rarer response when the lives of friends or family members are in ruins is to hang in there for the long haul. Be faithful. Do the right thing. Keep in touch. Intervene if need be. Maybe even admit our contribution to their problems by our poor example or our lousy advice. But in any case, be there. Let them know they’re not alone.

“I am with you” is one of the most powerful promises in the Bible. It was the assurance given by the resurrected Christ to his disciples. The same comforting words need to come from us when someone’s life is shattered and in ruins. “I am with you.” You’re not alone. Even if you fall down, you won’t be abandoned.

© 2008 by Tom Cheatham

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