As we watched my daughter’s basketball game from the bleachers, I heard the coach utter a single word to the girls on the court: “Doubles.” Immediately, their defensive strategy shifted from one-on-one to two of their players teaming against their tallest ball-holding opponent. They were successful in thwarting her efforts to shoot and score, eventually taking the ball down the court to their own basket.
When Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, grapples with the toils and frustrations of the world, he too acknowledges that having a companion in our labors yields “a good return” (4:9). While a person battling alone “may be overpowered, two can defend themselves” (v. 12). A friend nearby can help us up when we fall down (v. 10).
Solomon’s words encourage us to share our journey with others so we don’t face the trials of life alone. For some of us, that requires a level of vulnerability we’re unfamiliar or uncomfortable with. Others of us crave that kind of intimacy and struggle to find friends with whom to share it. Whatever the case, we mustn’t give up in the effort.
Solomon and basketball coaches agree: having teammates around us is the best strategy for facing the struggles that loom large on the court and in life. Lord, thank You for the people You put in our lives to encourage and support us.
Who has helped you through a difficult time? Who could use your support and encouragement? How will you help them?
After observing life in this world, the writer of Ecclesiastes concluded: “Meaningless! Meaningless! . . . Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (1:2). Meaningless is a translation of the Hebrew word hebel (used thirty-eight times in the book) that literally means “vapor” and figuratively speaks of things that are transitory, fleeting, purposeless. But readers are not left with despair. Solomon reminds us of the meaning and satisfaction we find in community with others (4:4–12).