And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel. And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days. -Genesis 50:2, 3 (KJV)
Consider for a moment the way our culture has streamlined the grief process involved when someone passes away. These days we will typically observe one day for the visitation, funeral, and burial. Following this there will be a time where the family gathers for a meal, although quite often I notice this is no longer done and the family members go their separate ways immediately afterwards. I can still recall years ago when the death of a loved one would involve a three day observance; two evenings of visitation at the funeral home followed by the funeral service the next day. Today most of us feel this is too much. In fact, I have presided over numerous funerals where all which was observed was a brief graveside service.
Contrast this with the ancient practices of the Bible. The Scriptures says when Jacob, the great patriarch of the Bible died, the first observance involved a 40 day period of preparation. This was followed by 70 days of mourning. The Scripture also shows how the family observed a 7 days period of mourning near the place of burial (v 10). All together Jacob’s funeral involved a time period of 117 days. Here was a culture which was not as focused on time constraints as we are today. I realize a period of mourning such as this would not fit with our culture of today and neither am I suggesting we go back to this. However, we do see how much more patient the people of ancient times were in their approach to life.
Do you feel hurried and harassed today? Do such feelings weigh upon you often? You are not alone, for our culture seems intent on racing forward in just about everything from funeral observances to vacations to our daily time with God. If most followers of Christ were honest regarding how much time they devote to prayer and Bible study they would admit they simply don’t have the time. However, this is not a valid excuse, is it? The real problem is one of priority. We are often simply not willing to make the time to devote to prayer and meditation on God’s Word. For followers of Christ, communing with the Lord is best placed at the top of our list of priorities. As Jesus promised, seek Him first and everything else in life will line up in its proper place (Matthew 6:33).
Slow down today. Relax a while and get alone with the Lord. Stop rushing frantically forward and begin spending daily time with God. He will be waiting for you every time.