Meditations for Troubled Times
“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.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2)
This week, the Evangelical world mourned the death of Christian Apologist Dr. Ravi Zacharias. For decades, he faithfully contended “for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3). In the mid-1990s, I heard him speak at a Methodist camp meeting in Indian Springs, GA and was impacted. I was wrestling with intellectual questions that professors at Georgia Southern and others had put before me. Ravi taught me that I didn’t have to check my brain at the door to be a Christian. He planted the seed for what I realized later—Christianity has the intellectual hardware to handle the most difficult of questions. This week I found myself thanking God for raising him up and using him in my life. Maybe you did the same when you got the news about Ms. Marianne. Much can be said about her, but I remember that she always wanted to come to church regardless of how she felt—sore shoulders and stiff legs included. She was even stubborn about it. Perhaps we all could use a little more of her zeal to be in the Lord’s house.
The passing of these two saints reminds us of the reality of death. The book of Ecclesiastes has much to say on this subject. Death is viewed as a looming specter that all must face. As Ecclesiastes 7:2 says, “it is the end of all mankind.” Why is this? Because all sin, therefore, all will die unless Christ returns. Paul says, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). It is the last enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26). And yet, death can teach us something. In fact, Ecclesiastes 7:2 indicates that it can teach us things merriment can’t. This is why, at times, it is better for us to sit in a funeral home than in a fun park. We need to be underneath death’s “preaching.” As it ascends its pulpit, the grave proclaims to us that one day we will be placed in a coffin. We are finite, and our turn will come. And when it does, what will be true of us?
Will it be: “She lived for pleasure and play”? “It was all about money and work for him”? “She was an unforgiving and angry person”? “He was selfish and harsh”?
Or will Peter’s words to Jesus be said in our eulogies? “Lord you know everything, you know that I love you” (John 21:17). Will our affection for Christ be evident in our thoughts, words, and deeds? Death leans over its lectern to instruct us, not only about why we die, but also how we can and should live. Jesus came to give life and it abundantly (John 10:10). As we listen to death’s message, we must recognize we will not live forever, and we need a Savior. However, as we take in the grave’s teaching, we must also learn lessons about how to go about our limited days. As one writer put it, “Death is a helping hand…[inviting you] to be a person who realizes that living a good life means preparing to die a good death”—in Christ and living for Christ now.
 David Gibson, Living Life Backwards (Wheaton: Crossway, 2017), p. 95, 98.