There’s a verse in Ecclesiastes that seems so very contrary to how we tend to live in 21st Century America, yet the wisdom is profound. Verse 7:2 states “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.” Our nation has been so prosperous for so long, known as the land where dreams can come true, that feasting has been synonymous with the image of life in this country. Unfortunately, this has warped our understanding of how life is meant to be lived, and we have far too often decided that our worth was determined by the amount of feasting that we were enjoying.
Far too many of us need our perspectives shifted, which is what the author of Ecclesiastes is suggesting. We need to spend time around death and difficulty, for that is the destiny of all mankind. When we personally experience sickness or injury, we get a glimpse of what life is like for so many in this world. If one of our joints wears out, we can seek relief by having a new one replace it. Yet there are so many in this world for whom that is not an option. If we are stricken by a food-borne illness, we can seek treatment or wait it out, knowing that it likely won’t happen again. Yet there are so many in this world who are made sick from the food they eat and the water they drink, and they have no safe supply of food or water.
We are so spoiled here, yet even in our spoiled condition we have these opportunities to get a glimpse of what life is like for so many others in this world. We don’t want to be sick and we don’t want to be injured, but neither do we want to spend time in a house of mourning. Sometimes the things that we really need are not the things that we would ask for. When we experience illness, injury or death, we gain valuable insight into the fleeting and fragile nature of man, which hopefully will instill within us a greater compassion for others who are suffering and a strong desire to learn about what happens after life in this material plane.
All of us have been living under the specter of Covid-19, and in the midst of that we have continued to experience the never-ending brokenness of the human body, either on ourselves or on those we know and love. If we are wise, we will remember these experiences and allow them to reshape how we view our lives and what is important to us. Then, just perhaps, we will be more compassionate to others and seek to define our lives not by the feasts that we partake of, but by the love that we give.
Peace and blessings – Pastor Aaron