Sorrow is better than laughter because a sad face is good for the heart. Ecclesiastes 7:3 (NIV)
My son was born without a heartbeat. I could not bear to speak the word stillborn. The most difficult phone call was to the florist. The phrase “funeral arrangement” stopped with my breath.
Filled with the darkness of grief, I became captive to the tears and anger. My husband returned to work. Friends and family had offered their condolences and resumed their lives. It seemed I was the only one left grieving.
The stages of grief – denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – cycled randomly, taking years to fully fade from impact on my everyday life. How could this sorrow possibly be better than laughter?
The book of Ecclesiastes states, “with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” Therefore, in the search for meaning and understanding, the author finds that sorrow is better than laughter. It would be nice to think that we could avoid all sorrow and be wise. But wisdom cannot be separated from sorrow. According to Ecclesiastes, “the heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.”
The words of those who had experienced deep sorrow brought comfort during my grief. While the desire to comfort was appreciated, the words of those who had not experienced or acknowledged their own sorrow lacked wisdom and understanding.
Ecclesiastes reminds us that all people, the righteous and the wicked, have the same destiny of death. The difference is in life. The choice is wisdom or foolishness. While joy and laughter can often bring us to a heart of thankfulness, sorrow can bring us to a place of recognizing the greatness of our God and the smallness of man. Sorrow reminds us of how little control we have over life. Sorrow brings us to the conclusion of Ecclesiastes that gives meaning to life: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of every human being.”
I would not wish the experiences of sorrow on anyone but I am thankful for the dependence on God that sorrow instills in me. The intimacy through sorrow makes the joy of laughter even greater.
Be thankful for the sorrow and enjoy the gift of laughter. Both are from God.