"Living Life Backward: How Ecclesiastes Teaches Us to Live in Light of the End is by David Gibson, minister of Trinity Church in Aberdeen, Scotland. It’s a poignant and powerful exposition of the message of Ecclesiastes." - TGC
"Nothing screams, 'This world is fallen,' louder than death. We were not created to die, but to live with God and each other in natural harmony and to develop creation in God’s will. We were not made to have our souls leave our bodies. But that happens at death. The run up to this departure is seldom peaceful. It is not natural. The body wants to live. It was created to live. But it must die. It may die piece by piece, ability by ability, word by word.
A while ago I went to visit a man whose wife had died. It was a cold winter day in Maine as I drove up to the ancient farmhouse overlooking a frozen lake in a largely unknown small town in rural Maine. For anyone reading this who is not from Maine, let me tell you that he fit the quintessential image of a Mainer. He sported a thick white beard and his skin was leathered and toughened by the harsh Maine winters and years of working outside.
As we talked we sat in front of the stove in his kitchen and the air was filled with the unique smell of wood smoke. He was a retired pastor whose wife had died about six months before and I would occasionally drop in to see him. Our continued sporadic visits were as much of a surprise to me as anyone. We shared a common faith in the saving power of Christ, but I suppose that is about it. We disagreed on many theological things and we hail from completely different generations.
As a sort of grief counselor though, I was there to talk with him about his grieving process. I expected our first visit to be our last, but he kept inviting me back. We would discuss many things, but he always came back to the deep ache in his life left by the absence of his wife.
Death is an occasion and funeral homes are a place marked by much sadness and grief. And yet, according to Holy Scripture, there is something potentially beneficial about such an occasion and such a place. As the writer of Ecclesiastes puts it, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to a house of feasting” (7:2 NIV). To paraphrase, “Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties” (NLT). Why would the Bible make such an assertion? What is this passage teaching us?
To begin with, let’s consider what this passage is not teaching:
The writer of Ecclesiastes is not forbidding or discouraging us from enjoying ourselves at festive occasions. In other words, the text is not teaching that it’s wrong to celebrate and to be happy. Earlier in the book the writer says, “There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (3:4). Later, he says, “When times are good, be happy” (7:14). According to the New Testament, the Lord Jesus himself celebrated weddings (John 2:1-11) and enjoyed feasts (Matt 11:19). So it’s not necessarily wrong to be to be in “the house of feasting.” God isn’t a cosmic killjoy!
By Jordan Standridge. Reposted from The Cripplegate.
Funerals are a gift from God. I know that sounds crazy, but they are a God-given tool to force us to reflect on the brevity of life, and how finite we are as human beings. I truly do believe that humans should attend as many funerals as possible during their lives. It is that good for your soul.
I had the privilege of attending two recently, and they could not have been more different from each other.
The first was that of a believer. One of the sons (who is an elder at our church) gave the eulogy, and the other son, who is a Presbyterian pastor, gave the message. At least 100 people were there. The second was for a non-believer. I had the privilege of giving the message at that one to a crowd of 10 people at the local funeral home.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the incredible difference between the two funerals. Both individuals were in their 80s, both had lived long lives full of experiences, and yet, the outcome of their funerals could not have been more different. Two reminders were very evident as I reflect on this particular “funeral Friday.”
As difficult as it is, we need to be mindful of death. We must make decisions with our day of death in mind. Please, please, please consider spending just ten minutes in solitude today, meditating about your own funeral. Imagine standing before a God who “dwells in unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:16). But don’t stop there. Perhaps ponder some major life decisions after meditating on death.