“For as soon as trouble comes,
they will earnestly search for me.”
Hosea 5:15b (NLT)
Amidst the stretch of my journey in which I served as a pastor, I performed a lot of weddings and a lot of funerals. In a few cases, the two very different rites of passage were performed close to one another on the calendar and it provided me with a very interesting contrast.
From my perspective, weddings have largely become events of mass distraction. They are huge affairs with seemingly endless amounts of time, energy and money invested in the most frivolous of details. Everyone is stressed out. Fathers are groaning under the fiscal weight of the event. Mothers are groaning under the pressure to make it perfect for themselves and their guests. Brides are under pressure to create and experience the ultimate Pinterest-perfect fairy tale. Grooms’ heads spin as they cluelessly follow orders and try to keep it all straight. Guests are distracted by the spectacle, the feast, and the dancing. Despite the token nods that God is given during the festivities, few if any pay much serious attention to spiritual things.
At a funeral, there is a dead body in the room. A living being people knew and loved and with whom they experienced relationship is gone. The body lays like a wax figure in an open casket. There is a somber weight to the event as every person is vividly reminded of his or her own ultimate, earthly fate. In comparison to a wedding, funerals are generally simple affairs that are arranged quickly. People just want to get through it and get it over with. Unless the deceased is royalty or celebrity, relatively little time and energy is spent planning the details of the event.
I struggle to recall to mind any wedding I performed in which I entered into any serious spiritual discussion with a member of the wedding party or their families. There’s too much hub-bub. People are too distracted. I can, however, bring to mind several funerals in which I had very meaningful conversations with individuals and families about life, death, family, regret, guilt, forgiveness, and eternity.
It’s natural and human, I suppose, to think that we don’t search for God until trouble comes. If the going is easy then we feel little need. I don’t want to live that way, however. I don’t want to wait for trouble to come. Along the way, I’ve determined to seek God each and every day, in good times and bad times, in weddings and in funerals, on the peaks as well as in the valleys (and a chapter-a-day :-)).