Two are better than one . . . If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Ecclesiastes 4:9–10
“It can be an affliction more harrowing than homelessness, hunger or disease,” wrote Maggie Fergusson in The Economist’s 1843 magazine. Her subject? Loneliness. Fergusson chronicled the increasing rates of loneliness, irrespective of one’s social or economic status, using heart-wrenching examples of what it feels like to be lonely.
The hurt of feeling alone isn’t new to our day. Indeed, the pain of isolation echoes off the pages of the ancient book of Ecclesiastes. Often attributed to King Solomon, the book captures the sorrow of those who seem to lack any meaningful relationships (4:7–8). The speaker lamented that it’s possible to acquire significant wealth and yet experience no value from it because there’s no one to share it with.
But the speaker also recognized the beauty of companionship, writing that friends help you accomplish more than you could achieve on your own (v. 9); companions help in times of need (v. 10); partners bring comfort (v. 11); and friends can provide protection in difficult situations (v. 12).
Loneliness is a significant struggle—God created us to offer and receive the benefits of friendship and community. If you’re feeling alone, pray that God would help you form meaningful connections with others. In the meantime, find encouragement in the reality that the believer is never truly alone because Jesus’ Spirit is always with us (Matthew 28:20).
How might you reach out to someone who’s lonely? How have you experienced the blessing of God’s Spirit with you when you’ve felt alone?
Heavenly Father, when I feel lonely, give me courage to reach out to others with an offer of friendship.
The book of Ecclesiastes is unique for its grappling with “existential angst,” or the meaninglessness of life. Our days are complicated and our experiences aren’t always easily understood. Ecclesiastes reflects the confusion we all experience as we wrestle with the challenges of life; therefore, it has an almost timeless appeal. It speaks to highly personal issues, such as loneliness (4:8), that are just as relevant today as when it was first composed. But even a subject as apparently simple as loneliness is not as straightforward as it appears. A few verses earlier in verse 4 the writer complained that one’s labor is a result of the jealousy of one for another, and yet in verse 8 the problem is not having anyone around. We don’t want to be alone, and yet certain relationships can bring pain and discomfort—perhaps leaving us wanting to be left alone! Ecclesiastes gives voice to the painful tensions we experience in life.
Visit ChristianUniversity.org/OT506-11 to learn more about the book of Ecclesiastes.