My sister-in-law went to be with the Lord yesterday morning. In any Christian home where death comes, it is supremely painful to see the suffering and the wailing, and yet also a soul-expanding joy to see compassion, hearts filled with grace and tenderness, and a quiet hope. These are things we see through suffering. Perhaps it is for this reason the Preacher says in Ecclesiastes 7:
A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth. 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. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
I’ve posted this quote from Lewis before, but it is so true:
The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us, but joy, pleasure, and merriment He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in the world and [pose] an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.
Many of our prayers are not answered because they are things that God has not promised to answer (like when I prayed that the Indians would finally win the World Series). But what does God promise we can pray with total confidence: that all things work together for good for his children (Rom 8:28), that our light and momentary afflictions prepare believers for an eternal weight of glory, and that the dead will live again (1 Thess 4:13-17). There are a hundred others. Think on these things (Phil 4:4-8) and rejoice with a joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory (1 Peter 1:8).
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. -Colossians 3:1-4