Death-defining Moments

Read: Ecclesiastes 7:1-4
A wise person thinks a lot about death (Ecclesiastes 7:4).

You guys, line up alphabetically by height.” Huh? “We’re going to turn this team around 360 degrees.” What?

These are two of many other bizarre quotes I came across recently.

Solomon said some pretty odd and outlandish things too. For instance, he wrote: “The day you die is better than the day you are born” (Ecclesiastes 7:1). “Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). “Sorrow is better than laughter” (Ecclesiastes 7:3). “A wise person thinks a lot about death” (Ecclesiastes 7:4). Whoa! Was Solomon some kind of somber-negativistic-suicidal- pessimist-with-a-death-wish dude?

As a Chinese man, it was ingrained in me that it’s totally inauspicious to talk or even think about death when you’re still living. But “everyone dies.” Death is not an if but a when. “So the living should take this to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). Solomon advised us to look death in the face, and then live with our end in mind.

Every time I visit a funeral home to comfort the grieving, I’m reminded once again of how short human life is. It doesn’t matter if the deceased was a 20- or an 80-year-old person. A life expired. And Solomon encourages reflection on life’s brevity instead of pursuing festivity or levity, “for sadness has a refining influence on us” (Ecclesiastes 7:3). This is why it’s “better to spend your time at funerals than at parties” (Ecclesiastes 7:2).

It’s in the face of death that we make serious and true evaluation of the way our lives have been lived and how differently we want to spend our hours today. Yes, “a wise person . . . thinks a lot about death” (Ecclesiastes 7:4). It’s the wise who learn from the brevity of life—in the light of the reality and inevitability of death. We lift our eyes from the physical to the spiritual and from the temporal to the eternal.


Where do your thoughts go when you think or talk about dying and death? How has thinking or talking about death defined or refined life for you?

Taken from “Our Daily Journey”