"The day one dies is better than the day he is born! It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die, and it is a good thing to think about it while there is still time. Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. Yes, a wise man thinks much of death, while the fool thinks only of having a good time now." Ecclesiastes 7:1b-4 (TLB)Night before last, my little bird passed away. I knew her time was near so I was holding her and keeping her warm, making sure she knew she was loved. I didn't want her to die alone in her cage. She was a little fussy and I knew that if she was in the dark she would calm down so I laid her down on my chest and covered her with a blanket, head and all. After about thirty minutes she started trying to flap her wings. She came out from under the blanket and I caught her in my hands and she was gone. My husband said, "It's like she just flew away." I was reminded once again how quickly life can be over.
When my father died in 2007 I thought I wasn't going to be able to go on. He had been my greatest supporter throughout my life. He was the one I turned to for advice and understanding. He wasn't a perfect man, but the Lord couldn't have chosen a better man to be my dad. I can remember every second of that day and I doubt seriously that I will ever forget. His death deeply impacted me and changed the way I thought of life. The person I counted on to always be there suddenly wasn't and I found myself considering the difference of how death is viewed on earth versus how it is viewed in Heaven.
When someone dear to us is no longer with us on this planet, it can be devastating. We find ourselves clinging to their last words, their favorite material possessions, songs that remind us of them and anything else that makes us feel close to them. The last thing we want to think about is that we won't see them again. As we go through the stages of grief we experience denial and anger long before we reach acceptance. We cry more tears than we thought possible and beg the Lord to explain to us why they had to go. The pain of losing a loved one causes our hearts to physically ache and our minds to question life.
However, what is perceived as an ending here is a homecoming in Heaven. No longer is there any separation between our loved ones and Jesus. It is the culmination of our creation! We see life as temporary, but our Creator made us to be eternal beings. Life doesn't end at death. It continues where we were meant to be all along. In Heaven we will be free from illness, from sorrow and from danger. Joy will rule our hearts as we witness in person the magnificence of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We will join with the Heavenly choir in singing praises. Any infirmities that we had before will be gone forever and we will be able to place our hand in the hand of the One who bore the penalties for our sin and made it all possible.
Here we grieve but there they celebrate. That is why today's verse admonishes us to ponder the end of our earthly lives. Death is simply the closing of one door and the opening of a much better one. Life doesn't cease, it is perfected. Our grief is for ourselves because we will miss those who go to Heaven before us. One day, though, not too long in the future, that door will open for us as well and we will step across the Heaven's threshold and wrap our arms around our Savior.