Last Tuesday night The Discovery Channel’s reality show, Deadliest Catch, documented the passing of Phil Harris, captain of the Alaskan crab fishing boat, the Cornelia Marie.
He suffered a massive stroke while his crew was offloading his boat in January and died in early February at age 53 while still in the hospital.
With the consent of his family, the reality show kept their cameras rolling throughout his ordeal, right up till the end. There were a couple touching scenes with his sons, especially when he told them he loved them.
The Discovery Channel did a tasteful job though it seemed crass to me at first. But a couple days before the episode I read these verses:
It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4)
Initially these verses caught me off guard. Why is it better to mourn than feast? Who likes funerals or intensive care units? Why is sorrow better than laughter and how does sadness make the heart glad?
The answer is that we can grow wise by contemplating death – “the heart of the wise is in the house of mourning.”
In our culture, we’re shielded from death. We shove it to the backs of our minds. We’d rather party. But parties don’t make us wise. Funerals are opportunities to see that death “is the end of all mankind” and we who are “living will take it to heart.” Intensive care units can remind us of the life to come.
Seeing death should help us contemplate our own death, think about eternity and live wisely.
By “sadness of face the heart is made glad” when we put our hope in Jesus, not in this world.
I feel sad for Phil’s family. But I’m glad they allowed the cameras to keep rolling. I’m glad they showed the hospital scenes with all the tubes and machines and his final conversations with his sons. I hope it helps me grow more wise. It reminded me that my own life is a vapor, and someday I’ll be with the Lord.
I don’t want to miss opportunities to glorify Christ, and to tell my wife, children and grandchildren I love them.