The Upper Room Devotion for Wednesday, May 3, 2023, was written by Andrea Doering of New York.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NRSV
I love listening to our church choir as their voices lead us in praise from the chancel. For me, they are also a visible reminder of what praying as a community can do. Years ago, my husband sang in the choir. He stood beside an older man who was unsteady on his feet and whose legs sometimes gave out. On the other side of this man stood a young man, a good friend of ours. As the choir stood to sing, my husband and our friend were like bookends for the man between them, ready to catch him if his legs gave way. Every time we rose to sing, I watched the three mean orchestrate their rise and descent. To this day, I see the image of them in my mind as I offer prayers for my family, friends, neighbors, and country. I thank God for the people who buttress me with their prayers, helping and sustaining me when I falter. This is a great comfort we are able to offer each other.
Andrea’s reflection reminds me of the story of Moses and the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea. As long as Moses held his arms up, the waters of the Red Sea were held at bay. To get everyone across took hours, and Moses’ strength waned as his arms grew heavy. Enter Aaron and Joshua who stood on either side of Moses, aiding him to keep his arms raised.
We all need people in our lives, to come alongside us, to encourage us, to hold us accountable, and to urge us toward our goals. As people of faith, we are called into accountable relationship with at least two other followers of Christ. That in our mutual accountability, we might harness a strength we could not muster alone. As you continue through the day, think of those who have been bookends when you needed support and resolve to be the bookend for someone else.
Loving God, thank you for our companions. Make us aware of those around us who need to be supported by both prayer and acts of compassion. Amen.
- Andrea Doering