It was just ten days ago when my husband was wheeled out an operating room. His digestive system had been dissected and reconstructed to remove the growing cancerous mass. Once a strong man, now Brad easily tires. Until yesterday, standing, walking, and taking care of his own basic needs required nursing staff assistance.
In response to my changed circumstances, a friend mailed me a card. She wrote, that although she was aware that Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 was commonly read during wedding ceremonies, she felt led to remind me of Solomon’s words.
“Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
My first reaction to these verses was fear. How will I face life alone if cancer defeats Brad? Who will be there for me during long, difficult nights or when I am sick? Life, once predictable and planned, has become filled with uncertainty.
As I processed Solomon’s words, fear subsided and anger took its place. Easy for him to pen this observation since his social support system was filled to the brim. All of Israel’s army stood at his command, thousands of servants waited on him, and hundreds of wives and many children loved him.
And of course this passage would be sweet words to be recited during a wedding as the bride and groom contemplate their bright future together. No longer will their lives be lived for oneself, but instead will be bound together.
How does this passage apply to me? Where is the hope and comfort in it for me?
Although I don’t know if I will have another thirty years with my husband, God has been showing me that Brad and I are not alone. The outpouring of love and support from our church and work relationships has been amazing. A water main leak at my home has been fixed, other plumbing issues have been addressed, gifts, cards, meals, and groceries have been delivered, and a regular stream of visitors has kept Brad company when I am too tired or busy to be by his bedside.
Solomon’s words may be wonderful to read during wedding ceremonies, but limiting their meaning to the state of marriage misses the beauty of the words. We Christ-followers’ social network is not restricted to the average American family of a mom and dad, 2.2 children, and a dog, but rather it includes all of God’s enormous family. It is with a grateful heart that I am coming to understand better what Paul meant in his letter to the Roman church when he reminded them that we all are a part of one body: the Body of Christ.
” For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others (Romans 12:4-5)