My grandmother passed away last week. Her time finally came and she graduated from this life. With her passing I’m now down to just one living grandparent—my paternal grandfather. Barring unforeseen circumstances he’s probably got a few more years left, but sooner or later his time will come too.

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On occasions like these I’m reminded of the wisdom found in seventh chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes, wherein we read:

(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.
(3) Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
(4) The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools in is the house of mirth. (ESV)

In our modern, Western society these words sound strange. Many of us have grown up largely shielded from death and the thought of becoming a better person by staring mortality in the face is a foreign concept. What we fail to recognize is that in coming to grips with death we gain a proper perspective on life. We see ourselves for what we really are—finite, dependent beings with a comparatively short lifespan. It is then that we can start to comprehend just how precious every second of our existence is. We are not entitled to life—every day is a gift. In journeying through the sorrow of death we find gladness—not the gladness of the person who wastes their life pursuing empty pleasure and pretends that the party will never end—but true gladness that comes from a sober understanding of reality.

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