Life is filled with ups and downs, joys and heartaches. As the passage in Ecclesiastes 3 mentions, there is a time for many different things, some bad and some good. The longer we live, the more clearly we will comprehend what the writer is saying.
These are lessons learned in the classroom of life that are experienced no matter how much we try to avoid them. As we walk through these milestones, we are faced with processing this assortment of emotions until we arrive at some level of understanding or at least a partial acceptance we can live with.
In verse two we read, "A time to be born, and a time to die" which sounds elementary but actually looms very large within our existence. We've all held a tiny baby in our arms and have been excited about a lifetime of possibilities, and we have also felt the grief and sorrow from those who have passed on.
These are natural reactions that come from our human emotions, but the Bible presents being born and passing away in a different, or should I say, a more spiritual, perception. A few pages over in Ecclesiastes 7:1, we read, "A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth."
The first part is explaining that a good reputation is the most important thing we can have other than our relationship with God. The second part is saying that departing this life is better than entering.
Many will ask how can passing away be better than being born. This is referring to when a baby arrives in the world. A wise person will realize this infant is getting ready to face many difficulties and hardships. However, when a born-again individual leaves this world, they are being released from suffering and entering into a heaven that is filled with the eternal glories of God's presence. In short, this verse is simply reminding us to not always be so emotional but to be more spiritually minded.
The end of our journey is a subject that many of us avoid intentionally. I agree it's very easy to be in denial with the idea that someday we will say goodbye to this world.
I've watched individuals who are in their 90s and how they respond when asked about selling an old automobile that needs to be restored. Many reply they do not want to sell because they believe that one day they will get around to finishing this vision. I can understand these things are special to them and an important part of their life. We just do not want let go of what we love.
Others might have barns or warehouses filled with parts and pieces they have collected for many years, but they still refuse to sell even one item. I also have a lot of things that I consider important. Maybe our "stuff" gives us a sense of security, and we just want to be surrounded by it until the very end.
Whatever reason we do not want to let go, we can be assured the greatest treasures on Earth cannot be compared to the amazing realm that awaits God's children. Adrian Rogers once said, "If you want to know how wealthy you are, look around at what you have and see what money cannot buy and death cannot take away from you."
As a chaplain and minister, I'm often called to the bedside of those who are passing away and I've never heard anyone mention their love for material possessions. The conversation is always about facing their destiny, seeking forgiveness and making sure they are ready to meet God.
An old hymn that declares, "It is well with my soul," conveys the message about making a sincere connection with our Creator in order to find spiritual peace and contentment. Hopefully, we can agree that if we do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, all is not well.
The good news is that everyone has a choice to make things right with God today. There is nothing preventing you from asking God to save and forgive you except your own decision. Anyone can invite the Lord to fill their heart with his presence, and when our time comes to depart, we can also joyfully proclaim that all is well with our soul.
William F. Holland Jr. is a minister and chaplain based in Nicholasville, Kentucky. Read more articles and check out the free scripture CD offer at billy hollandministries.com.