To love and be loved . . . isn’t that what we yearn for? We were designed by God for relationships as evidenced by His commandments:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mark 12:30, 31)
Yet when we open ourselves up to relationships, there is always a risk of disappointment or rejection. As a counselor, the vast majority of my clients problems have to do with the pain of broken relationships. When sin entered the world, relationships got more complicated and hurtful.
Still focusing on Ecclesiastes in my Journey Notes, I was grateful to get to where Solomon talks about the benefits of committed relationships. Consider what 4:9-11 says:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”
What a simple but beautiful picture is presented of a healthy relationship as it is contrasted with the loneliness of living in isolation. What I appreciate about this is that it speaks to how we benefit through mutual caring and support in every relationship- parent/child, marriage, friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor. I think of these verses when my husband or I step in to help or encourage the other. “Two ARE better than one!” seems to float out of my mouth with gratitude and delight in experiencing the blessing of God’s plan. But I may also declare “two are better than one” after completing a project with a neighbor, helping out with our grandchildren or while working with a client in the Counseling Room. That kind of connection with another human being is gratifying, be you on the “helping” or the “being-cared-for” side of relating.
But let’s face it, dealing with people can be tough! In those times when we have been hurt or disappointed in someone we care about, we make a conscious effort to guard against being hurt again. We may put up emotional walls to guard against hurt by shutting people out; but, ironically, we end up lonely and bitter because no one seems to care. That is where the importance of verse 12 comes into play as it yields the secret to developing meaningful relationships with God’s help:
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
What a neat little surprise! Do you get it? Because we were made by God for relationships we often experience defeat in our loneliness as “one”, while as “two” we at least have a fighting chance. Many times that is what we gladly settle for. But consider the wisdom for the Apostle Paul written from a lonely Roman prison:
” I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him (Christ) who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12. 13
When we look to Christ as our “third strand” the dynamics change in some powerful ways:
- We no longer look at others through our hurt, but through the loving eyes of Christ.
- We trust God for our healing as we refuse to keep that record of wrongs we once held dear.
- We pray with thanksgiving to the One who loves us and our faith is deepened.
- We then choose to rely on God to lead the way in speaking the truth in love to the one who has hurt us.
It is at this point that we then watch and wait to see what God will do in the heart of the other. Two ARE better than one but with THREE . . . that is where the adventure truly begins!
All to His Glory!