This has been a year of mourning for me, having lost my step-father in February, a sister-in-law in August, and a friend who died tragically last week. Shock and grief have been the houseguests who stayed too long; social distancing is lost on them. Yet God is glorified in all things, and His sovereignty is not shaken in seemingly hopeless times, even in death. He is our sure and certain hope, so we do well to experience these moments in honest contemplation and complete openness before Him. Wrote Solomon, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.”1 These are healthy words; this is timeless wisdom.
Though I have been a believer in Jesus Christ for many years now, I have struggled to understand the natural order of this life wherein we grow and learn that we may thrive—and raise another generation to do the same—only to find that, by the time we truly start to figure things out, we’ve reached its end and it is time for us to go. Why do we have so little time to savor the wisdom it took us so long to gain? It seems like such mockery, in a way. But as I sat beside my step-father in what would be his final hours, Paul’s teaching on life, death and resurrection came to mind. “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies,” he said, “When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed…”2 The apostle went on to conclude, “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”3 Though we would miss my step-father in the years to come, this was his appointed time of stepping away from the old and into the new. Perhaps Solomon had this in mind as he mused, “the day of death better than the day of birth.”4
Then for us who are born into new life in Christ, our eventual maturity into wisdom is not mockery at all, but rather preparation and assurance for a dying seed about to burst forth into its eternal destiny of unimaginable splendor. For our God is good, even in death. We, the living, can take this to heart.
Father, you have made us for yourself, and you desire us to be with you and in you through Christ Jesus, our Lord. Thank you. Fill us, that we would glorify you here as we await your glory in the unending age to come. In Christ we pray. Amen.
1 Ecclesiastes 7:2
2 1 Corinthians 15:36, 37
3 1 Corinthians 15:42-44
4 Ecclesiastes 7:1