The House of Mourning CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
According to this text, it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting. There is wisdom in the house of mourning and by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. Solomon said that the day of death is better than the day of birth. That is hard to imagine when you are grieving. However, Solomon also said that the living will lay it to his heart. In other words, when you go through a very sad event like a chronic illness or the loss of a loved one, you want to learn from the event.
What you find in the house of mourning is:
The Knowledge of God – when we first get saved, we know something ABOUT God but we don’t really KNOW HIM. You get to know him when you go through suffering. Paul said, “That I may know him … and the fellowship of his sufferings,” Phil 3:10. My friend, Bob Murphy, was so melancholy that he could find a cloud on a cloudless day. Yet, when he became chronically ill, he began to really know God in a way that he had never known him before. He wrote a book, The Fight for Light, The Spiritual Battle with Chronic Illness, and when I read it I told him that he most certainly had a ghost writer. Indeed, his ghost writer was the Holy Ghost.
The Love of God – there is so much talk about love these days that is in nigh impossible to tell who really loves you. But you can be sure that most of this talk is insincere. The closer we get to the Lord’s return, the less true love there will be. Matthew says, “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold,” Matt 24:12. In the house of mourning, though, you experience the love of God and there is no doubt about it to those who know you. The love of God is shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Ghost [Rom 5:3-5]. You’ll love the brethren and your spouse the way only a person in love with God can do [1 Jn 4:19-20, Eph 5:25].
The Grace of God – when we are strong, we don’t sense that we have any need for the grace of God. But when we are weak, then we know that we need God’s grace. We never know the sufficiency of the grace of God in the absence of necessity. Paul said that when he prayed for the thorn in his flesh to be removed, the Lord replied, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” He went on to say, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” I don’t know how much time elapsed before Paul learned by experience in the house of mourning, “When I am weak, then am I strong.” And still there is an indeterminate amount of time before Paul could say, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me,” [2 Cor 12:9-10]. He found this grace in the house of mourning.
The Friendship of God’s People – Bro. Murphy and I walked together through some of the greatest disappointments among God’s people. These experiences, if you are not careful, terribly disappoint you and can make you bitter. But we noticed that in the house of mourning, in the deep, dark, tragic moments of life, you fashion strong friendships with God’s people. On page vi of his book, Bro. Murphy wrote, “To my church family and all those around the world who have prayed, sent cards, called, and helped us financially: there is no group of people on this earth with whom I would rather be associated; you have truly been a remarkable family.”
Conclusion: You are going to suffer in this life if you haven’t already. Rather than attack God for his lack of mercy and goodness in allowing you to go through this, why don’t you look around and get to know God and love God? Why don’t you simply look to his grace to get you through? Why don’t you look to God’s people who are there to love and help you? Indeed, these are in the house of mourning!