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Our deep need for connection

August 7, 2023

Daily Scripture

Ecclesiastes 4:7-12, Genesis 2:18

Ecclesiastes 4
7 Next, I saw under the sun something else that was pointless: 8 There are people who are utterly alone, with no companions, not even a child or a sibling. Yet they work hard without end, never satisfied with their wealth. So for whom am I working so hard and depriving myself of enjoyment? This too is pointless and a terrible obsession.
9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their hard work. 10 If either should fall, one can pick up the other. But how miserable are those who fall and don’t have a companion to help them up! 11 Also, if two lie down together, they can stay warm. But how can anyone stay warm alone? 12 Also, one can be overpowered, but two together can put up resistance. A three-ply cord doesn’t easily snap.

Genesis 2
18 Then the Lord God said, “It’s not good that the human is alone. I will make him a helper that is perfect for him.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Genesis 2 stated a human truth: it isn’t good for any of us to be all alone. Ecclesiastes 4 expanded on that simple statement, describing the tragedy of great wealth with no human connections as a “terrible obsession.” It showed the antidote for that with down-to-earth images of helping someone up after falling, staying warm on a cold night and weaving a three-ply cord. That’s a basic reason why God called people (not one isolated individual) to follow God: doing it together fills a basic human need.

  • The wisdom teacher of Ecclesiastes, sometimes seen as bitterly cynical, warmly valued human friendship. “Two are better than one,” he wrote. They “can help each other, can keep each other warm and safe.” * He added that “a three-ply cord doesn’t easily snap,” which “may imply that three companions are even better than two.” * In what ways have you found value in facing life with a trusted, supportive group, rather than all alone?
  • If we pay attention (it can be hard), mission partners in Africa highlight the tragedy of over 100 million orphans and helpless children due to the AIDS epidemic. In Bible times, “orphans are used to depict loss, vulnerability and social disruption…. the plight of the widow and orphan often occur in tandem in the Scriptures.” ** One key New Testament image for God’s people was “family” (e.g. Romans 12:10). Click here to see how Resurrection small groups foster human connections.

Lord Jesus, thank you for keeping your promise not to leave me as an orphan. Teach me how to claim you as my Companion and Comforter and join with others in your family to help each other on our spiritual journeys. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Valerie Nagel

Valerie Nagel

Valerie Nagel was born, raised, and attended college in California. Her Master of Divinity degree is from Duke Divinity School. She was ordained in the Rio Texas Conference, serving as an associate pastor in the Austin area and San Antonio. From congregational care and welcoming guests to leading in worship, Valerie loves the ministry of the local church. She feels blessed to have served as a pastor since 2011. She juggles ministry with being a mom to Caleb (born 2012) and Jacob (born 2015), friend, avid reader, lover of the outdoors, beginner to the world of CrossFit, and foodie.

I am an introvert and an Enneagram 8. I can be strong and independent, and I love time by myself. But I also love people. It’s one of the reasons I’m in ministry. I love joining with others to care for people and their needs. I’m amazed by what happens when people volunteer with our Giving Garden and Food Pantry. It’s beautiful to know that people who are hungry have fresh produce and groceries because of the generosity of so many. And it’s overwhelming to see all the school supplies we’ve donated to children who are heading back to school. Many hands and open hearts make so much possible!

While working together to pursue justice is powerful, over the years I’ve learned that God also wants me to have meaningful friendships. I can easily get busy doing good things for others all the while ignoring the goodness God wants for me, too. There is healing that God has for me in community, but it can sometimes be hard for me to be open to it and accept it. I’ve always been a bit socially awkward because I love deep conversations and find small talk to sometimes be challenging and draining. While therapy has helped me in so many ways, it is also through friendships and small groups that I’ve experienced God’s love. It’s important both to address past hurts with a therapist and experience the goodness of love others can share with me.

The family we experience in church will never be perfect, but for anyone looking for people to be in their chosen family, for opportunities to practice being courageous, and for moments of connection, small groups are an incredible way to experience community. We get to learn how to be our best, to live like Jesus, and to be cared for in small groups. We were created for connection with God and others. Each of us faces our own challenges in creating, building, and sustaining connections. My prayer for all of us is that we would open our hearts and eyes to the invitations God has for us to grow in our relationships with others.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Brent A. Strawn, study notes on Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 1061 OT.
** Article “Orphan” in Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit and Tremper Longman III, general editors, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998, p. 615.