Ecclesiastes 4:8-12 is a little essay about why we need community. Verse 9 offers another point to consider: Community gives us help through life’s storms.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?” 

Perhaps you’ve heard it said, “God never gives us anything we can’t handle.” Sorry friends, but that one is fake news. The trouble is, we interpret those words as rough and tough individualistic, go-it-alone Americans. God won’t put anything on our shoulders that we cannot find the strength to go through on our own, is what we’re really saying. But that’s a lie!

There are all kinds of things that life throws at us that we cannot handle alone. Divorce.  Disability. Death of loved ones. Face those alone and you will be crushed. Don’t you ever toss those words out of your mouth again – God never gives us anything we can’t handle – unless you add the words: with your brothers and sisters nearby. Only then is that statement true.

We need community because we need the burden-bearing offered by others. And if you don’t need it now, then mark my words, you’ll need it later.

As with all things, there’s a balance here. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” But then look at what Paul writes a few verses later in verse 5:  “…for each one should carry his own load.” Is Paul contradicting himself here, to say that on the one hand we must carry each other’s burdens, and then three verses later that we’ve got to carry our own load? Is he such a twaddle-head that he can’t remember what he writes from one verse to the next?

Of course not. The burdens we’re to carry for each other are different from the loads we’re to bear alone. The load we are to bear ourselves has to do with the ordinary, everyday hardships of life, which all of us must face. The burdens we are to carry for each other are the tidal waves, the tornadoes, the catastrophes that life hurls our way.

Parents have a responsibility to raise and discipline their own children; that’s a load they must carry. It’s not up to someone else to do their job. But what do you do if life throws at you a special needs child that is mentally incapacitated? I cannot describe for you in a sentence the heartache and hardship that these dear parents go through each and every day, not to mention the isolation they feel, and the indescribable strain their children’s condition places on their homes, their marriages, their families.

That’s not a load, it’s a burden, which summons the strong shoulders and backs of other brothers and sisters to come alongside to encourage and assist. Take a few moments today to recall the times when you were borne up on the wings of the community around you. Thank God for those times, then promise him to provide that support for someone else.