Ecclesiastes 7:1A 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.
Some avoid the book of Ecclesiastes. If it’s not read in full context it can get you down. It forces the reader to look at life in a sober manner. Many of its scriptures are used at funerals, but they aren’t just for that. They are part of the Word for our daily living.
Why does verse 1 says the day of death is better than the day of birth? Is it? We don’t remember the day of our birth. The day of our death may be quick or we could linger. How could it be better especially since we’ll know and experience it fully? It forces us to use our faith. We may be weak and in physical suffering. Weakness before dying is natural. We don’t want to dwell on it, but we ought to consider it. Dying is part of our living just like being born. We go from baby to young person to middle age to old. 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. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. Think on these verses.
A lot of people don’t feel like they’re dying, but they do. Yes. We’ll die one of these days—years from now. When I was in my 40’s I thought I’d make it to my 50’s. When I got to my 50’s I thought I’d make it to my 60’s and on and on. We keep bumping it up. The truth is none of us knows. We look at our own mortality as way in the future as if we don’t have to think about it.
Do we need to think about it? I tried to look at this objectively. Do I need this scripture? I’m doing pretty well but between now and Sunday I could already be buried. We think it won’t happen to us. Remember your life is not in your hands. Chapter 8:8 says there is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it. I cannot say with assurance that since I’m pretty healthy I’m not going to die. We don’t know the accuracy of the tests. Doctors don’t know it all. Something undetectable could cause our death before we know it. Regardless of how advanced health care is, nobody knows the day of death but God.
We must be prepared. There have been times I’ve been close to death and I’ll admit I was afraid. At the same time I know God was there. Something was missing that will be there when I actually go through the valley of death—dying grace. Psalms 23 says yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. If we have an accident or wake with a heart attack or have a massive stroke and start down the dying road, we will not fear. We’ll know the comfort of God’s presence in his dying grace. It’s only natural to be afraid as we think about it but the dying grace will come. I’ve seen it. Instead of getting frantic and scared, people become peaceful and calm. They look at family asking why they’re said. Some begin to talk to loved ones gone on. They become more involved with them than us. That’s what dying grace does. Seeing it gives comfort to those left behind.
When we lose a family member it is hard. They are in the hands of the Lord; the hard part is left for us still here. I wish I had been a better person to my parents. We take life and each other for granted. We tend to look back with regrets. It’s hard to go on, but we must. Remember that regardless of the past, their life is now perfect. I wish I’d done things differently with dad, but he’s not thought a thing about that. He’s fine and wouldn’t want me to carry a load of guilt either.
Grieve. We should. Don’t sorrow as those without hope. Our sorrow is mingled with joy. We’ll see them again. David said his dead child couldn’t come back but he could go meet him in heaven. Before we draw our last breath we’ll see through the windows of heaven. There are few greater incentives to live for the Lord than knowing we have family in heaven. We’ll see them again when we die. There are few greater assurances that can alleviate the fear of dying than to know Jesus will be there. Our loved ones will be there. Why would we want to stay here? That’s why Paul said O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Ecclesiastes 7:18 says it is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all. We can go through it. The last moments of life will be the first of eternal life. We can face tomorrow because Jesus lives!