By Sarah Logan, Contributing Writer
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Two Are Better Than One
Sometimes we enter marriage with the notion that together we can face anything – we two can stand alone against the world, safe in the comfort of each others’ strength. Fair enough, I suppose - IF you never face a conflict with the one whose comforting arms you’re counting on! Let’s take a look at this passage in Ecclesiastes. Do you notice he begins with ‘Two’ but ends with ‘Three’ (as in a threefold cord)? It is apparent that the text isn’t specifically talking about marriage, but about facing life as laborers. The principle can fairly be applied to marriage since I believe marriage is a work, a vocation and a calling. If you are married, consider yourself ‘called.’
But working in marriage surely goes better when you have TWO working side by side – and such labor is rewarded! But what is this ‘threefold cord’ the writer mentions? We all know that a braided cord is stronger than a single strand. When married, we intertwine to build a stronger bond and greater impact in our work – the work of life (whether this is our employment or not!) Though the text doesn’t specify what the third strand is (thus leaving room for poetic license! ) – let’s go with the typical Sunday School Answer: God, Jesus or the Bible! (Let’s go with: All of the Above!!)
The Strongest Strand
How can we navigate the course of marriage alone? Not just individually alone – but as married couples: alone? We can’t. We need God as that third, vital, cord – a binding cord of strength, hope, support, grace, Shepherding. And we can’t know God deeply without really knowing His Word. And in His Word He reveals Who He is, and Who He is in the face of His Son, Jesus. Sometimes marriages fail for lack of a third cord.
I am deeply grateful to many godly couples and mentors who stepped in to communicate God’s Word to us – specifically and individually. We couldn’t ‘go it alone’ because we were floundering We were unable to see eye to eye – even with Bible in hand. We ended up in spats I refer to as ‘verse-slinging’ because we were out to prove a point and used the Bible as a weapon – just not against a true enemy, (which is, by the way, a misuse of Scripture)! We needed God desperately. We needed His Word. But we needed others to show us where we were off.
Tying it All Together
I have full confidence in Scripture giving us everything we need for life and godliness – but very often we need fellow journeymen to open Scripture to us to show us where we’ve wandered off track. So where are you at today in your marriage journey? Are you strengthened by the presence of a third cord? Are you upheld by godly counsel? Are you aware of your need to be sustained by Divine power? How might you draw from the riches of His Word, the provision of godly leaders, and His open ear to your prayer?
As you daily grow stronger in your union, keep your eyes on the author of your marriage and recognize His presence as the strongest of the three-stranded cord in your marriage!