3D Devotional 7.12.2019

Ecclesiastes 7:1-14 NRSV

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death, than the day of birth. 2It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting; for this is the end of everyone, and the living will lay it to heart. 3Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of countenance the heart is made glad. 4The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. 5It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools. 6For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of fools; this also is vanity.
7Surely oppression makes the wise foolish, and a bribe corrupts the heart. 8Better is the end of a thing than its beginning; the patient in spirit are better than the proud in spirit. 9Do not be quick to anger, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools. 10Do not say, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
11Wisdom is as good as an inheritance, an advantage to those who see the sun. 12For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to the one who possesses it. 13Consider the work of God; who can make straight what he has made crooked? 14In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; God has made the one as well as the other, so that mortals may not find out anything that will come after them.

Dylan Thomas writing in a war-torn and weary world says to value life and to make the most of it. In his poem “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” he wrote:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day,
  Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight,
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 
The writer of Ecclesiastes 7:1-14 is utterly opposed to the counsel of Thomas. Whenever the writer is asked to put away the long face and to plunge vigorously back into the struggle, his response is, “Sorrow is better than laughter, / for by sadness of countenance the heart is made glad.” So as the poet writes “Do Not Go Gentle...” The advice from Ecclesiastes is Go gentle! 

As Christians we can do that. We can live the good life and die the good death. Many good people  I have known in my ministry have done that. Lived good lives and died good deaths. 

Go gently into that good night and find the fullness of God’s grace.

Lord of Life and Conqueror of Death, be present with us when our course is finished so we may go gentle into that good night and find the bliss of your grace. Amen.

Ken Casey

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