House of Mourning

Journal Entry // June 8, 2021

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.

Ecclesiastes 7:4 ESV

Mourning and Mirth. Sorrow and Amusement. It is not too difficult to discern which of these any person would rather experience. We would all rather have the daily experience of amusement over and above a daily experience of sorrow and mourning. Yet, the Preacher tells us plainly that the person who is wise will have their heart in the house of mourning.

Why should my heart be found in the house of mourning? Because it is in mourning and sorrow and sadness of face that my heart is made glad. It is only by experiencing the sorrow that may heart understands and appreciates joy. It is in my mourning that I see the joy of the Lord pouring fourth into my soul.

This is counter intuitive to the way my mind thinks. This is counter cultural to the message the world is continually sending. The world is insistent that I fill my life with amusement. That every moment needs to be joyous and happy and carefree. If there is a point at which sorrow invades, then we offer condolences and pray for a return to amusement and happiness.

But amusement is not gladness, or happiness, or joy. No, amusement is an escape from mourning and sorrow. We don’t like being in the house of mourning and we want to leave it as soon as possible. We have pills, we have therapy, we have diagnosis all designed to remind us that mourning and sorrow is not the way life should be. So we medicate and work hard to leave the house of mourning and we run to the house of mirth and amusement.

The Preacher wants us to stay in the house of mourning. There is good in sorrow. There is good is experiencing sadness as it will lead inevitably to joy. Joy that is found in Christ alone. The path of Christ through this world was filled with sorrow and suffering. It was through this pain and adversity that he experienced in a more full way the love and grace of God. We too will find God’s grace sufficient for all life’s hardships and sorrows. But we must be in the house of mourning. We must face the pain and struggle and let it lead us to Christ for mercy and forgiveness and joy.

Patience. Humility. These are the two qualities that must be cultivated in my heart as it is in the house of mourning and sorrow. I must not amuse myself with distractions and frivolity. I need to be steadfast and firm in my determination to walk this path set before me. The Lord has set my course and promises to lead me safely home. My path is not the same as my neighbors. My path was designed just for me and is exactly what is needed in my life to bring me to maturity of faith. To build trust and dependence on Christ alone.

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