I remember being at one funeral and during the reception after the service, a bunch of friends gathered in the church parking lot with the tailgate down, drinking. Inside the reception, a brochure was handed out detailing an upcoming gathering at the local pub in rembrance of the young man who passed away.
I was reading this morning Ecclesiastes 7.2-4: 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. Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure. We live in a generation who can not stand being in the house of mourning - they lived now - in the house of pleasure.
I recently attended another funeral which was not a house of mourning for the loss of a loved one but the house of celebration of a life lived. Now, that is true - but there were also many tears. Why can we not bring ourselves to think upon death today and enter the reality of sorrow?
And that is the point of the preacher in Ecclesiastes - death is common to all and it is good to be found in the house of mourning once and a while as it brings us back to reality - life lived in the presence of God.
How is a sad face good for the heart? Do you ever hear that from the world - or even the church? If you are sad something is wrong and you must get rid of it quickly and superficially. The preacher, however, tells us it is good for the heart. And it is precisely because we then come face to face with God - and that is a good place to be. In suffering, God brings his children into his tender and caring presence and ministers to them, giving them a longing for more of Him. He is a jealous God who loves us too much to allow us to love the world too much.
A house of mourning ... a sad face ... take it to heart and you will find a wise and all powerful God who draws us to Him.