Bible Stuff

An Unlikely Favorite

June 4, 2021

I love the book of Ecclesiastes!  Now, don’t get me wrong:  I’m not dressed in all black with jet black hair wearing unusual looking bracelets and listening to sad music (no offense to modern-day emos…); it’s just that after my mom passed away, I needed to feel that someone understood the emotional devastation I was experiencing.  And I found comfort in the words of the author (most likely Solomon, so that’s the name I’ll use) in that book.

I spent about six months studying Ecclesiastes because it completely resonated with what I was going through during Mom’s physical decline and eventual death.  Sure, the book has a lot of what appears to be regret.  For example, Solomon repeatedly mentions that life is meaningless; people are treated unfairly due to financial and educational hierarchy; and that humans would be better off had they not even been born.  I’ll be honest – that was exactly how I felt at the time because I was in a very dark period in my life. Somehow, Solomon’s words were exactly what I wanted to hear.


However, during this emotional roller coaster I was experiencing, I unexpectedly came across some uplifting verses interspersed between the depressing and hopelessness of Solomon’s musings.  At first, I thought I was misunderstanding what was being said because the positive passages didn’t seem to fit in with my idea of the theme of Ecclesiastes which was supporting my despondent state of mind.  I was sure I was misunderstanding the verses, so I prayed that God would show me a deeper meaning, and He did!

There were actually several bright spots revealed, but the first one to jump out at me is found in Ecc. 4: 9-10.  In summary, it explains how having another person to turn to for help is better than trying to survive alone. This advice was about as far away from what I could accept as standing solid during an earthquake. I was raised by an Appalachian mom who taught me to be an independent woman who could make it on my own, so I sincerely believed that I was being strong during the grieving process of losing Mom. I didn’t need help from anybody.  But guess what: I wasn’t being strong; I was drowning in my sorrow.

Strangely, though, those verses in Ecclesiastes Chapter Four stayed with me. I kept thinking that I was doing just fine on my own during those dark hours, but I wasn’t recognizing that, along with God keeping me from completely falling apart, He had provided that friend who I didn’t realize was being the foundation keeping me standing solid during my personal earthquake.  That person is my sister. Let me explain.

My younger sister, Jill, is a very interesting person.  She has overcome some of the most difficult situations imaginable and has come out stronger and more confident than anyone I have ever known. In fact, she is now a very competent professional! But before I expound on that, I should give some background.

There is a five-year difference between us, so growing up, I always felt like she should listen to me and do whatever I told her to do. As you can imagine, that didn’t always work the way I thought I should, so we lived in a semi-perpetual state of conflict. I mean, she should have been listening to me, right? But no matter what, she was always, sometimes annoyingly when we were kids, there by my side.  I just didn’t realize how much that would mean until later.

As we got older, we began to follow different paths in our lives, but we stayed as close as possible.  I ended up moving a lot and staying busy with my family, so I became more distant, But Jill was always as close as a phone call. No matter what drama was occurring in my life, she was always there to listen and encourage me and never expected anything in return. But I still didn’t fully appreciate her. I mean, I was a strong, independent woman who didn’t really need a second person to help me stand solid during those “earthquakes.” I was the “only exception” to Ecc. 4:9-10.  Hmmm.

Over the years, Jill and I have faced a lot of challenges, but she was always there standing by my side.  There were serious health issues, divorces, financial shortcomings, issues with our kids, and the eventual loss of our parents. I was gradually beginning to notice the fact that the only consistent human stability in my life was my sister. She seemed to always know what to say and to be able to make even the most emotionally devastating events a much lighter burden. But I don’t think she realized her importance, not just to me, but those around her.

I have seen Jill go up to complete strangers who were hurting (I didn’t pick up on the signals) and walk them through their problems. She always has something nice to say to others that makes them smile, and she has a gift for making people feel comfortable. She is a person who anyone can “turn to for help” as mentioned in Ecclesiastes.

I now realize why Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 was my first epiphany in that book. I do have someone who is helping me stand, but sadly, I had often taken her for granted. I am so proud of Jill and the accomplishments she has achieved, but she has always made time to be my stability. It took some time to put it together, but God has allowed me to have a sister who is more than just a sibling. She is my best friend.

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Encouragement in Ecclesiastes?

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