House of Mourning | Ecclesiastes 7:1-4

Welcome to Real Life. Everyone loves a … funeral? The word doesn’t quite fit. Yet wise King Solomon said a funeral's better than a wedding feast. 

A good name is better than fine perfume,
and the day of death better than the day of birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of every man; 
the living should take this to heart. 
Sorrow is better than laughter, 
because a sad face is good for the heart. 
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, 
but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure. 
Ecclesiastes 7:1-4

In loving memory of my
 father-in-law, Michael Tustan
April 5, 1929 - July 16, 2012
I've been in a house of mourning. My dear father-in-law passed away last week. He was 83. For 18 years he needed total care after a heart attack left him incapacitated. My mother-in-law lovingly nursed him for twelve years until she had a massive stroke which left her bedridden alongside her husband.

At the funeral, an old friend of his pulled me aside. “Peggi, you’re a religious person. Why did God allow Mike to be so sick for eighteen years?” 

My initial thought was, “How would I know?  I’ve been asking God the same thing.” But, that’s not what I said. I answered, “One day, each of us will stand before God. On that day, all of life’s questions will be answered. Actually, at that point, I don’t think those questions will matter anymore.”

I stick by my answer. The day I stand before God, I doubt that I’ll be able to utter a word, much less interrogate him on the mysteries of life.  I’ll be speechless in the presence of an awesome God.

Still, I’ve been thinking about the man’s question today. The word God brought to my mind was “backstory” - the story behind the story.

Have you ever misinterpreted a situation until you learned all the facts?  Recently, I was involved in a fundraising effort. I watched something happen that appeared to be slightly underhanded. Then, a few days later, I heard the backstory. My perception was wrong. When I heard all the details (which I had no access to at the time), I found that everything had been done right and proper. I felt total relief and wondered, “Why did I doubt these people who I know and trust?”
I know and trust God. What is his backstory on my father-in-law? 

Two days after my father-in-law’s death, I wrote in my journal the same question I would later be asked at his funeral: “Lord, why did you leave dad so sick for so long? We lost too many good years with him. Those years were replaced with sadness, stress, and sore backs.”

From my viewpoint, it seems terribly unfair. Yet, I don’t have all the facts. I don’t know the backstory. Without hearing God’s side, do I still believe that he is good? Yes, I do. Because through the years, I have learned that I can trust God’s character. 

Baby Calvin (my son), Mike (my father-in-law)
and Terry (my husband) in 1990
I shared these thoughts with my husband. His response surprised me, “My father lived 64 great years – years of health and prosperity. I had a father who loved me and provided well for our family. That’s so much more than many people have. How can I be angry with God for allowing 18 years of illness?”

My husband’s glass was half-full, while mine was half-empty.

It’s good to go to the house of mourning. One day, my body will lie in a casket. And my spirit will stand before God. I will give an account of my life. Do I anticipate that day with joy? It is my choice. That’s Real Life.

Dearest Lord, help me to trust you even when I don’t understand.

Taking it further …

  • What questions do you want to ask God? Could there be a backstory? 
  • Is your glass half-empty or half-full? 
  • Take your hurts and questions to “The Altar” by Tricia Brock. God is real. He is waiting for you.


  1. Though I cry, this story is very encouraging and uplifting. I agree that the questions will not matter when we stand before the Lord even though I still entertain the idea. :) I love your husband's outlook and I love that you say, "I trust God's character." It takes time to be able to do this, it takes experience and maturity. Still, I am sorry for your loss as death is hard for those left behind.

  2. Thank you, Linnea! He was a wonderful man and father-in-law. He was well-loved, even in illness (especially through his illness). Even though I know "in this world we will have tribulation" it's never easy to embrace.

    I especially appreciate you persevering in leaving a comment. :) You're awesome.


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