Ecclesiastes 7:1-4 “The day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.  It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter. . . . The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, while the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.”

Observation: The fullness of the truth of these verses can perhaps be known only in our personal experience of profound loss.

Application: As a culture, we tend to celebrate the birth of babies and mourn the death of loved ones. In the physical sense, how could it be otherwise? The hope and promise in the form of a newborn baby fill us with a sense of eager anticipation for the future. And yet, if we reflect honestly, we acknowledge that the life stretching before the child also holds the promise of illness, unfair treatment, and other multiplied griefs.

In the passing of a believer, however, we are filled with a wonderful sense of completion, of a life now free from pain and abuse. In the physical realm we mourn because of temporary separation. Yet for the Christian, the assurance of life’s continuing in His presence is the source of the deepest possible happiness.

All this leads me to conclude that it requires great wisdom and insight for me to see as God sees and to understand as God understands. For while I dread the temporary separation which death brings, and fight against such instruments of that death as cancer, MS, and heart disease, I am  wise to fix my heart and mind on what lies beyond. In doing so, I begin to understand this “momentary, light affliction” (2 Cor. 4:17), as His instrument for my graduation; in fact, I may  see it as a good friend, serving as my gateway to eternal praise and thanksgiving.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for this reminder that this world is not my ultimate home, but that I find my resting place in You. Cause my mind to become fixed upon the eternal rewards You have purchased for me, and even to welcome the fact that Your plan for my eternal joy lies in the ending of life as I know it on earth. Thank You that I need not fear death, O Lord; stir zeal in me this day and every day to worship You even now, while awaiting that final graduation into the fullness of Your presence.