It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there’s no one to help, tough! Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night. By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 MSG)
Some will take the loss of "things" as the hardest burden they bear right now. Others may not admit it, but the loss of relationship with someone they loved is more than they are able to bear up under. Solomon was labeled as the wisest man to live. Even he recognized the "weight" loss puts in a man's heart. Nothing quite lifts the "weight" like being "partnered" with the right people in your life!
In examining our passage this morning, a couple of things caught my eye:
- Going it alone is bad news. We may make all kinds of brave attempts to mask the intensity of loneliness being "alone" causes, but in the end, it works its way to the surface! Do you know what a partner is? It is an ally - a companion in the journey. An ally is a helper - one who joins with you. The allegiances of allies is something which lends strength in the midst of the battle. I have a favorite saying - "This is my compadre in crime!" It is not the truth, mind you, as I am not aligned with anyone who commits crimes, or encourages me to do so! But...it speaks of being aligned with another - being in unity of purpose. It is a rare individual or two who actually fulfill this role in my life! Without them, I am just not able to bear the burdens life hurls my way. Yep, I've got Jesus, but with my "compadres", I've got "Jesus with skin"!
- We need help up when we fall. We WILL fall - it is inevitable. I shared a while back about a fall I took at work. I don't even know how it happened, but one moment I was upright and walking in the beautiful outdoors, and the next I was crashing to the earth! In a moment, a hand was there to lift me up. A true "compadre"! Solomon was not just speaking of our literal "falls" in life, but also our emotional plummets, mind-boggling intensity of imagined worsts which could come some day, and the deep-seated anxieties of unfulfilled dreams. Fall we will, but if we are "partnered" with another, we find the "hand up" we need!
- Cold times come and we need to be prepared to "warm" each other. I don't think Solomon just meant this literally - there is a deeper lesson here. There have been countless times when a friend has come alongside in my "coldness" of grief or disappointment, gently wiping my tears, holding me close, and just "loving" me back to warmness again. When "coolness" comes into a man's spirit, there is a lack of passion for the things they once pursued. In those times, we often need just a "coal" to reignite the fire. Do you know where many of my "coals" have come - from the fire another has stoked in their hearts just for the purpose of reigniting mine!
- The "worst" is never enough to drive a true "compadre" away. In fact, a true friend is there to ride the waves of the "worst" with you. As if sensing the rise of the "tide" in your life, they just come alongside. In the simple action of just "being a friend", they help you "ride the tide" until the storm has past. Solomon reminds us with a friend, we can not only "face" the worst, but we can avoid being "overcome" by it.
Just some thoughts to get us looking outside of ourselves this holiday season. We have been "partnered" with some very special "gifts" in this walk here on earth. Someone needs your strength. Look at what Solomon concludes - a two-fold cord is strong, but a three-fold is even stronger. Thinking about this, I thought of someone being at the "end of their rope", barely holding on, things just seeming to be "fraying" to pieces in their life. It is the "interweaving" of YOUR "cord" into theirs which will lend the strength they need to secure their hold. Don't be afraid of getting a little "interwoven" this holiday season! You need it as much as I do! Just sayin!