Who would argue that the day of death is better than the day of birth?
Recently, I visited with the mother and father of a little girl just days after her passing. We talked about her life and some of the struggles they were experiencing, but what I found curious is how this family found comfort in recalling the words of Ecclesiastes 7.
In this chapter, the author provides an argument that the day of death is better than the day of birth (v. 1). The first four verses go on to show us that “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting. . . . Sorrow is better than laughter. . . . The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning.” In this passage in which the author focuses on mourning and sorrow, it seems striking that he uses the terms “good” and “better” more often here than anywhere else.
We typically don’t categorize sorrow and mourning as “good” and “better,” but the author does. He does this in order to illustrate the way of wisdom in death. In other words, as joyous and exciting as the day of a birth may be, it does not provide the wisdom and perspective that death does. Death has a way of causing us to reflect deeply upon our lives. It calls us to reckon with the significance and fragility of life, and, for many, it can be a megaphone to rouse our souls and point us to God.
The reason why death exists is because of sin (Rom. 5:12), and because of our sin, we will die. Death is used to point us to the only One who has the power over death and promises us resurrection. For those who trust in the finished work of Jesus and follow Him as Lord, there is life.
This is the way of wisdom, and if we seek wisdom, let us cling to Jesus when we grieve and eagerly await His return. For in the day of His return, “He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).