A thoughtful person will leave the funeral home with a prayer on the heart for those grieving and consideration of their own appointment with death. God put eternity in our hearts and when someone leaves this world and has no part in it, it should cause us to reflect on how we live. Ultimately, we will have to face our deeds on the day of judgment (Romans 2:6-10). Reflecting on our own mortality allows us to judge ourselves to see what we need to change before that final judgment.
Ecclesiastes 7:2-4: 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.
Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
In our youth oriented, recreational, and hedonistic society, to say that it is better to go to the house of mourning (funeral) instead of the house of feasting (party) seems blasphemous. Our society is financially blessed and relatively painless health care is available that allows us to live longer than our ancestors. We do not have to travel by foot or animal for long periods just to leave the area; modern transportation can take us anywhere in the world in a short period of time. We do not have to chop wood for a fire and kill or grow food in order to eat. We do not even have to wash dishes—we just put them in the dishwasher and let it do the rest. An hour of cooking has been reduced to five minutes in the microwave. Women do not have to spend hours at a creek washing clothes but can put them in the washing machine and go about their business.
Despite all of these conveniences and blessings, our country has a high rate of depression and suicide. Why are people seeking escape in alcohol and drugs when the life they wish to escape is infinitely easier and more luxurious than the life their ancestors lived? Why do we have so many labor saving devices yet no time to spend with our families, the work of the church, and brood about our lack of time? Perhaps we have tried to live too long in the house of feasting and our gluttony is making us sick.
Consider the differences between the house of mourning and the house of feasting
|Subject||House of Mourning||House of Feasting|
|Thoughts||Sober: reflecting on the end of life and the importance of living today, Eccl 7:2||Vain and futile thoughts: great attention to foolish things|
|Compassion||Great concern for those who are suffering||Cannot be burdened with sadness and people who are depressed bring down the party.|
|Help||Can find many to help bear burdens. Work together to take care of family and friends||No one works. Ease is sought|
|Forgiveness||There is much forgiveness, apologies over the casket, regret that one did not say “I’m sorry” in life, and sometimes reconciliation with the living||False fronts conceal malice and envy. People will put others down to lift themselves|
|Materialism||Material things are put in proper perspective (passing), Eccl 2:17-21||Material things are exalted and cherished|
|Future||Sober reflection about one’s future, Eccl 12:13-14)||No thought of the future. “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.”|
|Mortality||Face to face with mortality, Eccl 9:2-6||Feeling of immortality. Some die during a drunken binge or drug overdose. Feel invulnerable|
|Vanity of Life||Cold reality that life is vain, Eccl 1:12-14||Think that life is one big party|
The house of mourning shatters our illusions. In the house of mourning we realize that the world will be destroyed. We realize that all will die and be eventually be forgotten by future generations. One hundred years from now no one will care who we were or what we did. This reality should remind us not to compromise our values for passing popularity or acceptance. Though we will be forgotten by man, God will remember us and what we have done.
We are made better for the time of reflection. The house of mourning means facing the realities of life. The house of feasting means escaping the realities of life. One house will make us ready for judgment; one house will put us in danger in judgment.
The house of mourning will lead to more satisfying joy than the house of feasting. The goal at the house of feasting is a good time, yet the most joyful, content life begins at the house of mourning. Although we get perspective at the house of mourning, it is not a permanent residence, we cannot live in sorrow and mourning. The solemn thoughts we have when we visit the house of mourning should enrich our lives. Our encounter with death should help us make the most of every day and every relationship and thus get more satisfaction from life.
Those in the house of feasting are eventually bored and dissatisfied with life because their life has no substance. There is no true happiness in the house of feasting, just entertainment.
Our eternal home will be in a house of mourning or a house of feasting. The Bible pictures heaven as a place of eternal bliss and joy, rejoicing with God. Pain and sorrow are removed. Hell is a place of mourning and sorrow, pain and grief for ignoring God’s word and failing to worship Him. If we learn the lessons from the house of mourning while on earth, we can live in God’s house of feasting for an eternity.