Tough Times Make Tough People
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning… (Eccl 7:4)
No one likes this text. I don’t. The house of mourning is a hard place. It’s a heart-breaking place. But Solomon is right. Hard times create character and cause us to face the big questions of life. We have referred to previous generations who experienced national conflict as wise and great. People who were born in the first quarter of the twentieth century lived through global war, financial ruin, and deadly diseases by the time most of them were middle-aged.
They were forced by their circumstances to look at the big issues of life to face loss and death to “go to the house of mourning”. When a person settles in to consider serious matters, they grow deeper roots. Like a tree buffeted by the wind. If we are to gain anything from this present moment, we will gain it through reflection.
This is Solomon’s point. Wisdom is gained in contemplation of the foundations and motivations of our lives. When Jesus said, “By this, will all men know that you are my disciples, that you love one another.” He was setting a standard for our hearts to consider and to set before us as a guide.
When He said, “This is the greatest commandment, to love God with all our heart mind and soul and the second is like it that we love our neighbor as we love our selves.” He was teaching us how to set our roots. This core had implications for every area of our lives. It flows into our language, our attitudes, and the way in which we listen. It is a huge thing to represent God on a broken planet. It is a difficult thing to keep from getting swept up in its currents.
But this is the time to check our heading and set our sails. This is the time to consider the drift of our life. Have I been caught up in the world’s agendas attitudes or segregation? Am I living to love God and my neighbor? Can my neighbors, and my opponents see Jesus in me?
It’s a high calling. But there is nothing more worthy to invest our one short life in!