Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name [is] better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.
2 [It is] better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that [is] the end of all men; and the living will lay [it] to his heart.
3 Sorrow [is] better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
4 The heart of the wise [is] in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools [is] in the house of mirth.
5 [It is] better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.
6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so [is] the laughter of the fool: this also [is] vanity.
7 Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.
8 Better [is] the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: [and] the patient in spirit [is] better than the proud in spirit.
These scriptures were read last night at church and I wanted to meditate on what looks like a riddle.. why is it better to mourn then to feast and rejoice? That surely isn't what is conveyed in our society these days.. that song "Don't worry be happy" rings in my ears or those happy little pills the doctors give out so freely, if you are sad it's ok but hurry up and get over it, rejoin the party.
Why is your day of death better then the day of your birth?? We certainly don't celebrate those life markers that way but I did recently hear an old Irish saying that may sum up how we should "Cry at births and Laugh at funerals".
The ending of something is better then the start? When I am watching a really good movie I am sad when it comes to the credits and ~THE END~ Maybe that is why some enjoy Soap Operas.. they never end but go on and on even with Friday Cliff Hangers and no one ever really dies.. they come back years later by some miracle or the actor reappears on a different show. But on the other hand when building a house we are excited when the foundation is laid but are so happy when the building process is finished and we can move in and live. Or when when a student goes off to collage, they are excited about all the new experiences and new things they will learn but celebrate when they do finally graduate four years later and have that degree in hand.
People who meditate on death are called morbid and weird, a special brand of crazy. But that is not what scripture is telling us here, the heart of the wise is the house of mourning. I don't think God is telling us to be sad all the time though, and in fact he tells us to rejoice in many other scriptures. So why here is he saying it is better to mourn then to feast?
When some one dies that is close to us it is a reality check.. a gut check. We are reminded of our own frail existence, that we are all appointed to die once and then the judgment. We are here but for a vapor of time. What we do with that time is up to us, a good name is better than precious ointment. Maybe it is the wise that keeps that in mind constantly, not only at funerals or when some one dies unexpected and it is the fool that is only concerned with the here and now and what they can get out of the party of life to satisfy their flesh?
I hold on to Matthew 5:4 close to my heart in times like these, it is a promise and so very true:
Matthew 5:4 Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
It is a blessing to mourn because the Lord will comfort you. I think of it like my father or mother holding me when I was young crying over a dead pet or a lost friendship and the warmth and love in their eyes and arms. Only now it is my Holy Father in Heaven holding me, speaking to me threw the Holy Spirit and encouraging me. And the comfort is knowing that this is not the end of my friend's life but the beginning of my friend's days in Heaven, in the presence of God. No better place to be then that! And really in light of that Ecc. 7 is not such a riddle but a reminder to be heaven minded. It is telling us to be like the wise and to think on eternal things here and now, not be like the fool who passes threw life brushing off thoughts of mortality and rejecting faith in Jesus Christ.