As I read stories on my I-Phone from major news services, I often think, “There’s a sermon illustration or an idea for a bulletin article.” So it is my practice to email the links to those articles to myself. I was having to delete a bunch of email because my inbox was 97% full. I happened across an article from USA Today which I had emailed myself back on August 8, 2020. In thinking about a certain anniversary Martha and I have coming up, I thought to myself, “This is the perfect time to refer to this story.”
JoAnn Reck was 86 years old when she died of COVID-19 on July 12, 2020. JoAnn and her husband, Sam, had both resided at Florida Presbyterian Homes, but a pandemic lockdown prevented them from having close contact.When JoAnn went to the hospital, Sam insisted on visiting his beloved wife. Sadly, 90 year old Sam Reck died of coronavirus-related complications three weeks after his deathbed reunion with his wife of nearly thirty years.
Their daughter, Holly Reck, thinks her father probably became infected while visiting his wife in the hospital. “Most likely, and he knew the risks,” she said. “There wasn’t anything any of us could have done to have talked him out of that. He would have gotten himself there one way or the other to see her. I do believe that.”
Scott Hooper, JoAnn Reck’s son from her first marriage, talked about how Sam Reck had no regrets after he was diagnosed with the infection. “After Sam tested positive for COVID, I asked him if he regretted his visit to the hospital,” Hooper wrote in a Facebook post. “Without pause he replied, ‘Not one second.’ He said no matter what happens, he was very happy he had the opportunity to say goodbye and hold her hand one more time.” I suppose, in view of the risks, you could say that Sam loved his wife more than life.
At least Sam was allowed to make that decision. As many of you know, my uncle Don Oliver died this summer in the hospital. He had fallen at the dialysis center and broken his hip. He was taken to the hospital and later died there some days after surgery. While he did not have COVID-19, his wife was not allowed to enter the hospital to see him due to COVID-19 restrictions. They could only speak by phone. Judy was not allowed to make the decision that Sam did.
On November 17th 2020, Martha and I shall celebrate our thirtieth Wedding Anniversary. We have been married slightly longer than Sam and JoAnn. The time has passed swiftly and happily. While neither of us are perfect, we have been perfect for each other. We have lived together “as being heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Pet. 3:7). Together is the key word to a happy marriage – live together, play together, work together, talk together, worship together, and serve God together. We have raised two Christian children into adulthood of whom we are very proud and grateful. We have leaned on each other and supported one another as married couples should do. Neither of us could do what we do without the help of the other. I am grateful every day that I married Martha Wallace.
I am reminded of what the heavenly Father said in Genesis 2:18, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”
After God created something, He stepped back and said, “That’s good.” Then He’d make something else, and He’d say, “That’s good.” Then something else. “That’s very good.” And then He saw that man didn’t have a wife, and He said, “It’s not good that man should be alone. I’ll make a help meet for him.” God’s work of creation was not complete without creating woman. “Everything” was not “good” until God had created not only man, but woman as well. God recognized that man needed woman.
Why was it not good for man to be alone? It was not good for man to be alone because man is a social being and only woman could be the help truly “meet” or suited to man. Woman supplies what man needs as a counterpart to himself, both psychologically, sexually, morally, spiritually, and biologically as the mother of his children. It was not good socially for man to be alone. It was not good for man to be alone if the race was to be propagated. It was not good for man to be alone since he needed the companionship of the opposite sex. So God made a help meet for him, literally, a helper corresponding to him, one who was equal and adequate for him, one that was suitable for him, one completing him.
The current usage of this term runs the words together making them a “help meet.” However, the word “meet” used in this text means fitted or suited. God purposed to make for man a help suited or agreeing to his need. Seeing as how none of God’s creatures could serve this purpose, it was necessary that one be created. God decided to provide what man needed. And as Philippians 4:19 says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” If you are in need, you need to trust in God that He will supply your needs. Didn’t God recognize and determine to supply the need of Adam? Jesus said in Matthew 6:32, “…for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” God knows our needs before we do! God knew Adam’s need before Adam did and provided what He needed. I believe God can do the same for us today if we will trust in Him, do His will, and pray for our needs to be met. I surely prayed for Martha before I ever met her. I will confess that it took me awhile to come to the realization that she was the answer to my prayer.
In a happy marriage, your love can grow to the point that you love your spouse more than life itself. And it is also true that to have a happy marriage, you must learn to die to yourself. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Christ died for the church. Husband, you do not love your wife as Christ loved the church unless you have died for your wife by dying to yourself. Paul certainly challenges spouses by calling for a love equal to that of the Lord himself. Just as Christ gave Himself for the church, the husband is to sacrifice himself for his wife in his interests, his will, and his desires.
The depth of the love that a husband and wife should have for each other is beautifully illustrated by Jacob’s love for his wife Rachel. “And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her” (Gen. 29:20). Due to the trickery of her father Laban, Jacob would have to serve another seven years after his marriage to Rachel. Jacob loved her enough to sacrifice 14 YEARS of his life in order to have her.
If a husband loves his wife, in the true meaning of the word, he is willing to give of himself freely with that kind of sacrificial love which Jacob manifested. That is surely the kind exhibited by Sam, who knowing the dangers, willingly risked his life to say good-bye to his wife. He loved his wife more than life.