No sooner did God put Adam in the Garden of Eden and it was determined that Adam could not live alone. “It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him a helper,” God said. God realized that life can be very lonely without someone to share it with.
The story of Adam and Eve is normally understood as the origin of man and woman as a couple. However, I believe it could also be interpreted as an example of how we are never alone. Loneliness is one of our greatest fears. It frequently leads to anxiety or depression. To be alone in any way can be very difficult if not terrifying.
There is the widow or the widower who is alone. When a person has lost their spouse the world is terribly different. Many of the chores and responsibilities that were done by one’s spouse must now be assumed by the one who remains. Those who have lost their spouse tell me that the hardest time of day is the evenings. That was when they talked, watched television together and focused on each other rather than the demands of the day. Consequently a great void has occurred, more like an abyss, full of sorrow and grief.
Some will find another companion and others will embark on some mission or project to fill the void. But for those who remain alone, time seems to stand still, their lives filled with darkness. Its no wonder that widows and widowers are overwhelmed. For some the “broken heart syndrome” sets in and death becomes an avenue in which to escape because of their inability to cope with their loneliness.
There are other forms of loneliness too. Take for example a person who is faced with a difficult decision and no one else can make it for them. Or the leader of a company who is challenged with laying off workers because of decreasing workloads and diminished profits. Consider the family of a soldier in Iraq who is separated from a husband or father. What about a person who is facing surgery? There are also the everyday feelings of loneliness as we strive to cope with the pressures of a single day.
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For Adam in the garden, God put an end to his loneliness by sending him someone to share the journey. No longer would Adam be solely responsible for all God’s creatures. He would now have a partner. A more accurate interpretation of the word, “helper” is “partner.” Adam needed a partner, someone to share his trials and tribulations in the garden, an associate to share in the responsibilities and management of God’s creation.
In this case, Adam’s partner, a woman, became his wife. There is nothing like having a spouse to share life together. I cannot imagine being in ministry and not having my wife to be with me. I can confide in her my deepest concerns. With my wife, I can share by dreams and my failures. She is more than a companion. She is my partner and consequently I am never alone.
But what about those who have lost their spouse? What about those who are divorced or those who were never married? Who will be there to fill the void for them?
Allow me to paraphrase this story just a tad. “It is not good for a person to be alone; I, (God), will make him/her a partner.” We forget that God is the creator, able to construct life from something as simple as a rib. Notice that the partner was created while the man slept. In other words, God’s creativity occurred while he was not conscious of what was happening. God never sleeps. God is always aware of our aloneness and provides partnership through others.
There is an elderly man I know whose companion died over a year ago. This same man’s first wife died of cancer. Now in his nineties he is not interested in another relationship. But his life is not without joy and meaning. Lately he has been spending time with his grandchildren, taking them out to dinner and attending their sporting events. His new “partner” is his new involvement with his grandchildren.
I am aware of another woman who recently had surgery and is recuperating at home. Her best friend, from another state, has come to stay with her for a few weeks until she gets back on her feet. She has a “partner” to be with during her time of recovery.
The “partner” God sends is not always someone we know. It could be a person of either sex, or even someone quite different than what we expect. For Adam, God created Eve, a woman, totally unique and quite different from Adam. In fact, you could say God created someone who was the opposite of Adam.
Do you suppose that God could provide a Democratic friend for a Republican? Is it possible that your best friend could have a different religion? Perhaps your newly created partner is a person of a different race. Perhaps they are from another country.
As I look back upon my own life I now realize that God was very creative in the partners that were provided during my times of loneliness. In boot camp God gave me an Afro-American, inner-city, street kid from Cleveland. During my months in the Gulf of Tonkin, God provided a Southern Baptist from Georgia. Every time I was alone, God created someone different. I just wonder how many times I rejected the very person who could have helped.
I could share hundreds of stories like these. But one particular story says it all. A woman was in a serious accident in a city far from home. She felt so enclosed in a cocoon of pain, she didn’t realize how lonely she was until a “forgotten” friend in the city came to visit her. Her friend firmly, but gently said to her. “You should not be alone.” In the weeks that followed, this friend’s advice rang in the injured woman’s ears and helped her to overcome her otherwise reserved nature. When another friend called from a city several hundred miles away to say she wanted to come stay with her, the injured woman didn’t say, “Don’t bother” as would have been her normal response. Instead, she said, “Please come.” The friend was a wonderful encouragement to her. Then, another friend offered to come and help in her recovery. Again she swallowed her pride and said, “Please do.” The second friend stayed for several months until the injured woman was able to care for herself. (from God’s Little Lessons on Life for Women, Honor Books, Tulsa OK)
God provides partners for us in our times of aloneness in a variety of ways. Unfortunately there are times when we reject the “partner” God has created because of pride, stubbornness or our disbelief that God is creating on our behalf.
God is the creator, involved in individual lives. God also gives us the freedom to either reject or accept the “partner” that has been provided. Adam didn’t reject his newly created partner. In fact, he accepted her unconditionally. The chapter ends with this famous quote; “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Again, permit me to interpret this another way. The man, (Adam) put all other relationships aside and bonded with his newly created partner, (Eve). In other words, Adam is alone no more.
With God we are never alone. God is aware of our “aloneness” and creates “partners” for us even as we sleep. There is no reason to experience anything is life by ourselves. God wants us to accept our partners although they seem quite different from ourselves.