Last week I was talking with one of my brothers and he reminded me of how great having a wife is. When I was single I hated being alone. At one point I thought that I could solve that by getting a dog. I thought having "man's best friend" would solve the loneliness I felt. But as I've come to find out, a dog doesn't solve the problem of loneliness like my wife does.
Rosie is a good dog. She's barley out of the puppy stage so we're still working on some things, but overall she's not bad. She's starting to really listen, she even fetches now. She's waiting expectantly for you when you get home (we keep her in the garage when we're gone as we're still working on house breaking, and as soon as she can squeeze under the garage door she's out to greet you). She makes my wife so happy, and most of the time she makes me smile. But she is no where close to my wife. She is a companion, but my wife is so much more than that.
The dog is called "man's best friend," but Biblically, the woman is referred to as ezer kenegdo, "Help meet" (KJV) or "a helper suitable for him" (NASB). I haven't studied Hebrew (Greek was all I was able to squeeze into a pretty packed college schedule) and this phrase has been a little difficult for me to study. For this I turn to others.
In Wild at Heart and Captivating John Eldredge looks at the work of Hebrew Language professor Robert Alter, of Berkeley, who says it is "a notoriously difficult word to translate." He says it means more than just "helper" it means "lifesaver." Everywhere else this word appears it is only used for God, and then only when "you need Him to come through for you desperately." "Eve is a life giver; she is Adam's ally. It is to both of them that the charter of adventure is given. It will take both of them to sustain life. And they will both need to fight together."
Ezer kenegdo is a "soul mate, the most vital companion I've ever known. It is the one you cannot live without. According to Alter it is "a sustainer beside Him." As said in Captivating "ezer would be 'lifesaver.' Kenegdo means along side, or opposite to, a counterpart." "From the beginning, Eve was God's gift to the world - his ezer kenegdo for us."
Eve was made from Adam's rib. Again the Hebrew translation here is a little difficult for English to capture. From what I've heard that word refers to the feminine side, that God literally pulled the feminine part out of Adam, and formed it into a woman. He then brought her to the man to be his helper, sustainer, his life giver. There is a longing to be joined together again. (Look at my post titled "The Full Heart of God" from January 2010)
Rosie, while a faithful companion, is not and never will be my ezer kenegdo. No animal can be. Genesis 2.20 tells us, "The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him." There was no ezer kenegdo for man among the animals, not even the dog.
My wife is the only human being who is my counterpart. While Rosie is "man's best friend" she would be that to any master. But my wife is MY ezer kenegdo, she is my counterpart, my match. She is my helper and lifesaver. She is my ally, the one who constantly has my back. She is my traveling companion as we adventure through life together. There is no other person who I can not live without. She is my ezer kenegdo.
One of the things I've learned in the almost eleven months I've been married is how difficult marriage is. People tell you, and I don't think it's that you don't listen or believe them, but that you can't understand it until you go through it. You take two people, of opposite genders, who have lived completely different lives for more than two decades, and suddenly throw them into the same habitat in the most intimate human relationship available, and there are going to be a few difficulties. It will happen because literally two worlds are colliding and coming together as one, just as God intended for it to be.
But one of the other thing I've learned is that marriage for a ministry couple is even more difficult than for non-ministry couples. I heard an story years ago that has recently come to my mind again.
A man was on a plane and across from him was a man sitting with his head bowed. When the meals came the man set it on the tray and continued to keep his head bowed, never touching the food. The stewardess came later and collected the trays, and the man kept his head bowed. At the end of the flight the first man went up to the second man and said, "I noticed you had your head bowed, are you a Christian?" The man replied, "No, I'm a Satanist. We've committed to fast and pray that 100 pastors fail in their marriages this year."
That's real, that happens. Marriages, especially Christian marriages are under attack. I've said countless times before that marriage is the foundation of society. The husband/wife relationship is central to the family. As the marriage breaks down so does the family. Society is made up of families, and a society filled with broken families is a broken society. Look at America today and you'll see this. How many single moms are out there? How many children have no idea who their father is? How many orphans are there? How many broken homes and families exist?
Statistics show that half of all marriages end in divorce. I've heard, and probably so have you, that Christians divorce just as much as non-Christians. I went looking for the statistic and found that the truthfulness of the statistic depends on how you define Christian. Those actively involved in their faith, those genuinely living it out, are actually 35% less likely to divorce.
The more my wife and I go through the more I realize how much we need God to get us through this. That just as my wife is my ezer kenegdo, God must be ours. God is the only one who can sustain us through our ministry. The closer and more dependent we are upon God, the closer my wife and I will be to each other, and the stronger our marriage will be. The stronger our marriage is, the stronger our family will be, and the stronger our family is the more it can be used for the Kingdom.
Somehow I've gotten slightly off track. My original intention was to share how grateful I am for my wife. Proverbs 18.22 says, "He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord." God said in Genesis 2.18, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." God knew that nothing in all of creation could sustain and help man like woman.
My wife is the greatest blessing I've ever been given. I'm still learning and realizing that. I'm still striving to show her that daily. Honey, I want you to know how grateful I am for you. You are my ezer kenegdo, my helper, my friend and companion. I love you so much, and I thank God for you daily.
To God alone be the Glory!
Peace be with you