“Two are better than one . . . If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
In his novel entitled Brendan, Frederick Buechner tells a story of a man pushing himself up from the table revealing that he only had one leg. As he began to hop sideways to reach for his walking-stick he lost his balance and would have surely fallen on the floor except for Brendan who was nearby jumping up and catching him. “I’m as crippled as the dark world,” the man confessed, to which Brendan responded, “which one of us isn’t?” “The truth of what Brendan said stopped all our mouths,” says the book’s narrator. “We was cripples all of us.” “To lend each other a hand when we’re falling,” Brendan then philosophies, “Perhaps that’s the only work that matters in the end.”
“We was cripples all of us,” and no story better illustrates this than the Passion story we commemorate this Holy Week preceding Easter. Jesus had endured an exhaustive trial, flogged, beaten, ridiculed, spat upon, and tortured in every way imaginable, both mentally and physically, then forced to lug the heavy timber on which he was to be executed up the road leading to Calvary. Exhausted from all this he stumbled, falling face down in the dirt. It was then that a man from Cyrene named Simon was summoned to the rescue, not unlike Brendan who rescued the man with but one leg.
So, if even the Creator of the universe and Savior of the world can stumble and need someone to lift his bloody, filthy face out the dirt, then carry his burden for a while, what does that say about the rest of us? How many of us have not from time to time been rescued by another human being? I often consider how I would never be where I am today if certain people had not been there to catch me before I fall, lift me up when I did, or offer me a chance or an opportunity I did not deserve. Likewise, in those times when I am upright, am I aware enough and thoughtful enough to offer a helping hand to those who are stumbling, or face down in the dirt buried beneath a heavy burden?
We are cripples, all of us. That is why “Two are better than one . . . If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” May we be there to help one another up; for “to lend each other a hand when we’re falling, perhaps that’s the only work that matters in the end.” Just ask Simon.