We've had 4 families from our church who have experienced death in the past week. One family lost a son. Another family lost a dear mother. Another lost a grandfather. Another lost a husband and a dad. Since becoming a pastor, I have seen more death than I would like. I have watched two people die. I have been with a family when they found out their husband/dad passed away. I have been with a family who lost a baby. I've attended or performed funerals for people who have committed suicide. It's never easy and I often feel so inadequate in those times and I simply trust the words of Scripture that tell me to "mourn with those who mourn."
There's a verse in the Bible that I never fully understood until the past few years. It’s Ecclesiastes 7:2 and it starts out by saying this: “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting.” I remember reading that and really being confused … I like to feast! It doesn’t get much better for me than just sitting down to a great meal. But, this verse is basically saying that’s it’s better to go to a funeral than to a wedding. And, I was confused about that until I read on: “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.” If you just read that last sentence, you'd be considered among the "living." So, follower of Jesus or not, that verse is for you. We should all take note of it.
Death has a way of refocusing us because it causes us to come face to face with our mortality … the fact that we will not be here forever. Doug Fields said "Time is one of the few constants we can rely on. Inflation doesn’t affect time. And recession doesn’t affect it either. Five minutes today is the same as five minutes was twenty years ago, and it’s the same as five minutes will be twenty years in the future. Time never flies. But it does tick away. And once it’s gone, we’ll never get it back."
I will be attending a funeral today and, the reality is, one day someone will be at my funeral ... and yours too. We only have so much time. Psalm 90:12 records a prayer of Moses and he asked God to "Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom." Simply put, we will just be more wise when we realize we only have so many minutes promised us and, once they're gone, they're gone. We will be more wise if we ask questions like "Am I pursuing the values I'd pursue if I knew death was just around the corner?" A question like that brings so much focus to our life and helps us begin to understand what is most important.
Jesus said “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” In other words, your heart will always follow what you value most. Don’t value work over your family. Don’t value bitterness over forgiveness. Don’t value entitlement over thankfulness. Treasure your family, your husbands, your wives, your kids. Treasure the opportunity to offer forgiveness to someone. Treasure generosity and the opportunity to help those in need. Treasure your friendships. Treasure the opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life. And, most importantly, do I know for sure where I will spend eternity? (Click here if you'd like to know more about this)
Because "death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.”