October 14, 2016
Strength in Numbers
Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
We had planned a hike for months, and at last the time had come. It was a three-day hike out on the south fork of the Dosewalips River in the Olympic National Park—my dream vacation. As I led the way in an area of thick underbrush, I came to a dead stop. About a hundred feet ahead, partially hidden behind a rotting stump, was a bear. Now, bears are cute when you pull your car over to take their picture, but we were not in our car. There was nothing between us and that bear other than one hundred feet of rough ground—the kind he could cover a lot faster than us.
Standing there in the light drizzle, I wondered what to do. My wife came over, and we discussed the situation. Sensing that my dream vacation was about to end almost before it started, I said something to the effect that we should probably turn back. Although in her heart she no doubt desired to go back, she said that we should probably go on. As we continued to talk, the bear vanished into the brush. Our final decision was to continue the hike, with me making lots of noise like the experts tell you to do.
We camped about a half mile short of our proposed destination, Anderson Pass, and the next morning my wife decided to remain at camp while I made a quick trip to the pass to take pictures. I never will forget the difference in my confidence level that day as I walked by myself, compared to the previous day when I was accompanied by my wife. Without someone to bolster my courage, I visualized a bear around each corner and every time I emerged from a thicket. I was glad when I finally got back to camp again, where I could feel safety in our numbers.
In a similar way, as Christians we need the fellowship of other believers to encourage us in our walk with God. It is good to attend a church where we are in harmony with others, and it is valuable to have some Christian friends with whom we are especially close. Today’s focus verse speaks to this, pointing out that two are stronger than one, and three have even more strength. Christian friends can share, encourage, and spur each other on. When one is a little down, the other is there to uplift. We need to cultivate close fellowship with other believers for the sake of our spiritual well-being.
God has created us to need the companionship of others, and nowhere is this more important than in our Christian walk. If we purpose to cultivate and maintain such relationships, we will be stronger Christians for it.