Weep and Rejoice
Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
I Corinthians 12:26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Romans 12:15 is one of those deceptively simple-looking and poetic scriptures whose power and depth can easily be overlooked, somewhat like the equally powerful and demanding “Speak the truth in love.”
Most humans have empathy, and certainly it is a call to Christian unity and love to express sympathy to our brothers and sisters. Most of us aren’t reluctant to experience some of the sadness of those that are grieving over something. And we aren’t adverse to congratulating or expressing joy with someone who is rejoicing.
But the scripture calls us to something much deeper, something only possible with God’s grace. The two strong emotions called for here are sentiments we often don’t like to go near except superficially. Sharing someone’s sorrow, for example, can trigger all sorts of emotional reactions we’d rather not deal with. Perhaps there are losses we haven’t come to terms with in God yet. Perhaps we are still damaged by things that have made us weep, and we are not ready to open our hearts that much to another person’s losses.
Then there is the sin of schadenfreude, a German word that describes the ugliest and pettiest of reactions to someone’s pain, and that is taking pleasure in it. Few would ever want to admit to having such thoughts or feelings, and most believers would be loathe to express such feelings in the light of another’s pain. But what resides in the heart is known to God, and it is a more common response than we want to admit. The good news is that with repentance and the blood of Jesus, it can be forgiven and healed.
Then there are the occasional triggers when someone else succeeds or is greatly blessed. Some of the author’s foreign friends have noted that America is different from their country in that we applaud success and great blessings, where other cultures might tend to resent those who are somehow set apart in a positive way. It’s been described as not so much jealousy as finding it unseemly to see others break out of the norm and rise above the crowd.
How about us? Does someone’s success remind you of what you (think you) don’t have? Do your own frustrations get stirred when someone else’s goal is met, or they receive a great blessing? God’s call is for us to blast past those demonic attempts at emotional bondage and genuinely rejoice along with others when they are rejoicing.
We’ve all experienced the tender loveliness of sorrow shared. Let’s let our own emotional healing continue by genuinely sharing the emotional burdens of others in a healthy way. And let’s remember that the rejoicing of others is meant to be shared, too, and is part of God’s provision of joy for us.
Prayer: Father, thank you for the love and unity You have put in Your body. Help me to experience it more fully as I learn to weep and rejoice with others. Continue to open and heal my heart that I may be more like You in responding to the ups and downs of those around me.