Once upon a time when my babies were small, kissing boo-boos satisfied them though the tears continued to leak from their eyes. I remember the day reality hit, and my five year old called me out on the whole “kiss-my-boo-boo-Mommy” tact. When I offered to kiss his owie, he promptly retorted, “That doesn’t work Mommy.”
So, we got out the wash cloth and medicine. As I went to work on his bleeding scrape he hollered at me, “That’s making it WORSE!”
But honestly? Sometimes things really do get worse before they get better. My recent Bible study on the phrase “it is better” was quite educational—in fact, I uncovered the idea that many of the feel bad things in life are actually “better” for us. So, the question becomes how can things that we think of as bad, actually be better?
The answer is unearthed by diving into God’s word and searching out His meaning by these words.
STUDY NOTE: The best way to discover what God means by HIS words is to press pause on our own pre-conceived notions about who God is and how He works. Ask God to help you extract His meaning in the words, rather than trying to insert a meaning into the words we already “know.”
Let’s come at the following texts afresh together looking to hear from God!
“Mourning” is Better?
My go-to verse whenever I am faced with death is Ecclesiastes 7:2—“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.” (ESV)
Yep. You read that right. King Solomon said it. And it’s in the Bible, so it’s true.
STUDY NOTE: The best way to get a feel for what a writer is saying is to pick up the context. Sometimes it can be gleaned from grabbing just a few verses before, and other times you might need to back up a few chapters. Example—you’d never take a letter from a friend, start reading it half way through the second page and expect to understand where they were coming form. So why do we often approach the Bible this way?
Let’s see where Solomon was going with these words.
If you rewind back to chapter 6, it’s kind of like reading Solomon’s diary. He’s talking about the vain pursuit of man and concludes that wealth is worthless. In Chapter 7 he goes right for the kill (pardon the pun) in verse 1 when he says the “day of death” is better than “the day of birth.”
Excuse me? Dying is actually better than being born? Woah, that’s a little different than how we generally look at the order of life. Though I know the death of God’s people is “precious in the sight of the Lord,” to state that death is better than birth kind of blows my mind. But good news—we have the answer as to why he says this in verse 2.
“…this is the end of all mankind and the living will lay it to heart.”
What do we, the living, lay to heart? Our end—our death. This contemplation leads us to consider where we’ll go when we die, how we’ve been living, and who we’ve been living for. For the believer in Christ, that means we head straight for the Gospel! Our hope! Walking in the wake of death is a crucial time for the unbeliever, a season which God often uses to draw the unsaved person to Himself.
And that is the value of walking through the valley of the shadow of death—we are faced with the truth that life on earth isn’t all there is. There’s something MORE important to God than this exhale, this vapor we call life. It’s the afterlife with Him. And if death is a means to prepare us for what’s most important, than it is better to hang out at funerals and read obituaries than to live oblivious to our fragile needy state in the sight of God.
So there you have it! We meditated on just one verse that contains the phrase “it is better.” There are several more to look at, so pull up a seat, grab a coffee and enjoy!
Happy studying—and may the grace of God inform your hearts and minds as you go deeper into His word!
Christy Pearce is a wife, stay at home Mommy of 3, writer and speaker. Her passion is to proclaim God’s truth and make Jesus known! You can connect with her at her blog.