Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:5
Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.
Be happy with those who are happy. Be sad with those who are sad.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
It’s so easy. It’s easy to rejoice with those who are rejoicing. To laugh with laughing friends. To be happy when your friend is happy. Most of us are very good at this. It’s fun to be around people who are having a good day. Celebrating life is like licking the icing off the top of the cupcake, right?
Where we fall flat is that second part, the part we hope we won’t have to do. We don’t want to see our friends sad, weeping, or mourning.
I was in a bible study a while back, as a visitor. A young lady was struggling with life. I don’t know her situation, but it could be any of our stories. Life isn’t good or bad. Usually, it’s good and bad. For that day, week, month or year, she was overwhelmed with the painful parts of life.
The people in the class meant well. They wanted to make her feel better. They told her it wasn’t so bad as it seems. They told her she just needed enough faith. Perhaps those things they said were true, but they weren’t really loving or helpful at that time.
In the end, I could see that she just felt like a failure as a person and a Christian. She had bared her heart, her life, her sorrow. They meant well, but the message they sent to her heart was that she wasn’t a good enough Christian. I could see her heart welling up into her eyes. I understood her sorrow, so I spoke up into that place.
Life is hard. It’s hard for all of us. Christian, or not… We have a great gift, in Christ. We have his word and we have the Holy Spirit in our heart. We aren’t walking alone in this world. We need always to be thankful for that.
At the same time, we need to guard our hearts and our churches against the idea that God will give us some Disney-like happily-ever-after. Life just doesn’t work that way. The rain falls on the just and the unjust… We share the same broken world, the same worries, the same hurts.
When another Christian is broken and brave to share the hurts with us, we need to do just as this simple verse in Romans tells us. We need to weep. We need to share tears. We need to share in the sadness and the mourning. Why do we shrink back from the weeping and mourning?
Why do we judge another’s sadness and try to determine if there is adequate cause for the tears streaming down their cheeks? Why do we tell our hurting friends to be strong and to hide their sorrow? Why do we say nice things that are platitudes rather than hold their hands and just let the tears flow?
Are we afraid of sorrow?
Is this a cultural expectation? Are we following culture over the words of the Bible?
We mean well, but are we hurting those we love?
Are we making them hide their true self from the very ones who love them?
Worse still, are we seeing their sorrow as a weakness and using it against them?
Perhaps it’s time to challenge some of our church culture. Maybe we need to do a bit of weeping with those who weep. The bible is often an upside-down book. The least likely become the ones used by God. It may be that by weeping with those who weep, we strengthen hearts and relationships and lives. In that breaking of our own heart for someone else, we open our heart to grow as it never could have in any other way.
God blesses you who weep now,
for in due time you will laugh. ~Luke 6:21