7 Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: 8 There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. "For whom am I toiling," he asked, "and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?" This too is meaningless-- a miserable business! 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: 10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
There are few things in life more important than friendship. C.S. Lewis said that there is no greater pleasure than sitting next to a fire with his friends. He talked about friends as one of those things that you don't need to survive by saying that they don't have any survival value, but they do add value to survival. I like those thoughts.
The author makes a point when he broaches the topic of friendship. There is something very meaningless about being all alone. Even when you're experiencing something great, it doesn't seem to carry meaning when you're all by yourself. Community is kingdom-critical.
I wrote something about 9 years ago that I've never really forgotten. It speaks of what this passage touches on.
I just learned a fearful thing…
I don’t live in community.
There isn’t a friend I know that I can’t live without (other than my wife).
Sounds spiritual…but it’s not.
I’ve grown to not need anyone.
Religion has become the fight to survive without contact with others.
Life is filled with twists and turns
Where occasionally I intersect with another
In such a way that it leaves me overjoyed.
But over time, schedule and the basic patterns of life
Remove me from that person and I’m alone again.
Bursts of rapture and rays of joy split this dark world
But in the end, what they awaken with their entrance
Is soon closed with their departure.
I laid my eyes on a journal entry today that made my heart seize.
I was looking for encouragement and I found community.
My spirit was filled with the pangs of loneliness
Knowing that my life is filled with activity,
but little intimacy.
I don’t have time to do absolutely nothing with someone else
There has to be a hitch, a purpose, and a program.
So much happens in Christianity
It’s hard to knock the fact that it does give people something to do with themselves.
But Christianity and Community aren’t good friends.
If they ever get to know each other
It’s usually an accident, a freak twist of fate.
It saddens my heart that I spend so much time with people
and so little time in people.
It’s not the lack of contact; it’s the lack of connection.
Loneliness isn’t being alone,
It’s being with people and not finding a fit.
It’s talking and not being heard.
It’s listening and not remembering.
And the worst thing is this…
I’m getting used to it.
I’m getting used to sharing superficially
I’m getting used to editing my true feelings
I’m getting used to talking to myself
I’m getting used to compartmentalizing my life
I’m getting used to getting used to things
I don’t take life as personally anymore.
But the inescapable reality is this…life is boring without people.
It’s pointless without others to share it with.
It’s like watching a funny movie by yourself.
It’s like shooting a hole in one all alone.
Without someone to share it with…it dies.
People are the only thing that makes life live.
They take everything else and give it meaning.
I’m bound to my need for others.
Denial only prolongs the agony.
I can’t live without deep friendship.
I can’t grow without true fellowship.
I can’t survive without brotherhood.
Standing alone isn’t strength; it’s weakness.
Independence isn’t maturity; it’s insecurity.
Getting accustomed to friendless living
Is like getting used to walking with a rock in your shoe.
You can walk, but not with quality of life.
You can ignore the pain or endure the discomfort,
But after a while you have to ask the question,
“Is this the way it is supposed to be?”
The answer is a hearty, “No!”
In our haste to fulfill our desires,
We’ve forgotten an important ingredient,
“It is not good for man to be alone!”
That’s before sin…that’s including God.
A man and God are not enough.
Man needs another…someone else.
He’s can’t live without communion…
He was created for community.
He was born for brotherhood.
And so my heart looks for brothers…
Strong men who aren’t afraid to show weakness.
Godly men who aren’t afraid to disclose sin.
Skilled men who aren’t afraid to fail.
Serious men who aren’t afraid to laugh.
Brave men who aren’t afraid to face danger.
Passionate men who aren’t afraid to look stupid.
Confident men who aren’t afraid of other men.
Humble men who aren’t afraid to grow.
I know they’re out there.
I know they want just what I want…community.