Ecclesiastes 7:1-8:8; 2. Corinthians 7:8-10; Psalms 48:9-14; Proverbs 14:30-31
OT: “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, since that is the end of all mankind, and the living should take it to heart. Grief is better than laughter, for when a face is sad, a heart may be glad. The heart of the wise is in a house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in a house of pleasure. It is better to listen to rebuke from a wise person than to listen to the song of fools, for like the crackling of burning thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of the fool. This too is futile.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2-6 CSB)
“Good grief!” is an negative exclamation expressing dismay, but Solomon wrote that there is such a thing as grief that is good. When Solomon wrote that grief is better than laughter and that it’s better to go into a house of morning than a house of feasting, he wasn’t saying that laughter and feasting is bad. In fact, earlier in this book, he wrote that there is a time to laugh and a time to dance. In the same breath, he also wrote that there is a time to weep and a time to mourn. What Solomon is addressing here is the folly of refusing to mourn or grieve. The poet Thomas Gray once wrote, “Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.” Children are usually ignorant of the challenges and struggles of life, and in their ignorance, they are blissful – but as they go through life and experience hardship, pain and grief, they become more wise and more able to handle the rigors of responsibility and adulthood. Peter Pan was a boy who refused to grow up, and there are plenty of foolish and ignorant “Peter Pans” in the world. This is what Solomon was writing about.
Innocent and ignorant boys and girls are cute and entertaining to watch, but there is something regal about a wise woman – there is something honorable about a wise man. An adult male or female that has not grown into maturity, but still laughs at responsibility like an ignorant child, is quite off-putting. When times are challenging and trying, it is better to go into a house that embraces the weight of the times and allows themselves to mourn, than to go into a house that ignores the times and frivolously parties their lives away. When times are sad, it is better to know how to grieve than to cover up grief with obnoxious laughter – for it is through the grief that a sad heart can be made truly glad. The rebuke of a wise person is so much more valuable than the praises of someone who refuses to say what needs to be said. A wise rebuke properly given will lead a person to growth and maturity. If all you do is listen to praise, deserved or not, you will never be challenged to grow. Don’t refuse to grow up by ignoring and laughing over the challenges and trials of life. There is a good that can be found in grief. Embrace the trials and challenges, and come out the other side a more wise and mature disciple of the Lord.
NT: “For even if I grieved you with my letter, I don’t regret it. And if I regretted it — since I saw that the letter grieved you, yet only for a while — I now rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t experience any loss from us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly grief produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:8-10 CSB)
This excerpt of 2 Corinthians is a perfect illustration of good grief. The tersely worded letter that Paul sent to the Corinthian church challenged them sharply and brought them grief. It also grieved Paul to have to write the letter. Paul, being a mature man in the faith, did not ignore the challenges of life by laughing them off. He wrote a letter that was painful for him to write, knowing that it would bring pain to those he dearly loved. But it was out of his love for them that he wrote the letter. Love would not just lavish praise when correction was needed. Love would not allow a church to continue descending into sin and away from the life and love of God. The grief that Paul felt was soon turned to joy because the grief that the letter caused was a godly grief… it brought godly conviction, not condemnation. Through that godly “good” grief and conviction, the Corinthian church repented from their sin and were restored to right relationship with God and with Paul.
Prayer: Lord, Your word teaches, that though there are times to laugh and celebrate, there are also times to grieve and mourn. Both are needed. It can be tempting to live my life in constant, never-ending positivity and ignore the sad and challenging things of life, but there is much wisdom and maturity to be found in the sad and challenging things of life. Help me to fully embrace everything you call me to walk through, that through Your grace the good and bad times will mold me and mature me into completion. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.