We all live in the shadow of death. Each day, we hear of illnesses, accidents, and loved ones lost too soon. Recently, I sat at the bedside of a friend whose body remained, but whose soul had gone to be with Jesus. Those gathered wept at our loss and rejoiced at her gain. Her race was finished, her course complete, and her pain ended, and she was home.
The rest of us remain in the shadow. It looms. We wait, wondering when the next diagnosis will come, when the phone will ring with more tragic news. However, as I sat at my friend’s bedside, the words of Ecclesiastes 7:2 came to mind: “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.”
The reality of death reminds us what’s important about life. The house of mourning reawakens us to our purpose, hope, and home.
It’s easy to get off task in our daily living. Seeking the lost, sharing the gospel, and making disciples can too often become tomorrow’s task. We can get so caught up in the busyness of life, we forget what’s important about living.
Death sifts out trivial matters and brings clarity and focus. At this moment, only one question is significant: Is the soul safe with Jesus? Death reminds us that we’ve got good news to share. And today’s the day to share it. Knowing Jesus is the only thing that matters. The house of mourning takes our eyes off lesser things and refocuses us on our great purpose: to know Christ and make Him known.
We tend to set our hope on things that are unable to bear its weight. Peter directs us to the only place sturdy and safe enough: “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).
Terrible is the moment of death without Jesus. However, in Christ, the day of death is one where weeping mixes with rejoicing. We have hope. One day Jesus will breathe life into the flesh that has failed. Resurrection will come. In Christ, the day of death becomes a day of hope.
The house of mourning reminds us that we aren’t yet home. We’re waiting for a better day. As our loved ones go before us, we know they’re safely home. Jesus promised:
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1–3)
In that home, the house of mourning will be no more and the true feasting will begin.