The House of Mourning

Usually lessons come hard.  How many lessons have you learned in life when things were easy?  Think of that first car wreck you had, did you learn from it?  Did it feel good or make you happy, or did you pay a price?  Consider that sting of losing a close friend or family member, did that change your perspective on life? These difficult and even tragic circumstances tend to teach us much, we take these things to heart.  Listen to the words of Solomon.

Ecclesiastes 7:2-4

It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

This is, to our first world ears, a shocking statement.  Really, it’s better in the house of mourning?  Better than feasting?  We want to say, I don’t buy that.  How can sorrow be better than laughter?  All of us would rather go to the wedding feast than a funeral home, or visit the nursery to see a new baby than to stand beside the grave and bury our loved ones.

This last week I had the opportunity to see the movie ‘1917.’  It is set in World War One and focuses on a soldier who is given a dangerous task that risks his life, with the goal of saving thousands of lives and perhaps the war effort.  The reality is that this movie carries with it the weight of sorrow and death.  It reminds us of some of the awful lessons learned from WWI.  War and death and pandemic have a way of imparting wisdom that many of us don’t like.

The ultimate lesson is this:  we shall all die no matter how we fight against it.  The reason the house of mourning is better is because it points us to the greater reality.  After all “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”  The house of feasting is good and fun and wonderful, but don’t miss out on the lessons which are born in our sorrows.  Life is short and singular.  Therefore, let us run to Christ who came that all who believe in Him might have eternal life!