"...The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning." - Ecclesiastes 7:3,4
"Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth." - Ecclesiastes 7:3,4
Sorrow is better than laughter...
When reading Ecclesiastes I have always paused on these two verses and pondered its truth in life application. In those few moments I ask myself 'how can this be so?' Let's begin by saying that it would be an error to think that this kind of sorrow means that followers of Christ are to live a life of misery without any joy or laughter. We also ought not presume that mourning in this passage is speaking of the sorrow of the world - the kind of sorrow that is without hope and produces death (2 Corinthians 7:10). Life without hope is to live a life without Christ. I believe that the sorrow this passage of scripture speaks of goes far deeper than remorse over one’s sin after it is exposed and being merely sorry for its grievous consequences. This sorrow is what the Bible describes as "godly sorrow" that "produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted"(2 Cor 7:10).
…For by a sad countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning…
The heart of the wise in the house of mourning is clothed with humility and confesses, “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight” (Psalm 51:4). The fruit of this confession is ultimately expressed in the act of turning away from sin and the turning to Christ. A heart made better by a sad countenance is one that has been boldly before the throne of grace crying out, “Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice” (Psalm 51:8). Indeed, "a broken and a contrite heart - these, O God, You will not despise" (Psalm 51:17).
Initiated by God, who by His Spirit, convicts the heart of sin, godly sorrow that produces repentance leading to salvation is first realized at the cross of Calvary. It is at the cross where the lost son says to his father, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight…’ and where the Father responds by saying, ‘…for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’ (Luke 15:21, 24). It is at the foot of the cross where, through repentance, we in turn receive forgiveness that was only made possible by the blood of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! At the cross our sin is divinely exchanged for His righteousness, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (1 Corinthians 5:21). It is at this place of surrender where we are justified by faith and have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).
Throughout the ordinary sanctifying Christian life, godly sorrow may cause one to sow in tears, but also will promise to reap in joy (Psalm 126:5). In this sense, sorrow is better than laughter, and by a sad countenance the heart is made better.