Happy & Hurting People Need Others


What comes to mind that made you rejoice this past year? Perhaps you’re mourning the death of a loved one. Or maybe, someone else‘s situation caused you to enter into their joy and grief.

I can’t remember a year when I’ve rejoiced and mourned with so many people.

Rejoice with those who rejoice.

Last June, my son and his bride gazed into each others’ eyes as they pledged to love one another for the rest of their lives. I squeezed my husband’s hand, remembering our own wedding vows spoken forty-two years earlier. After the celebration festivities, the guests cheered as the newly-wed couple drove away. Our hearts were full. Party over!

Later that evening, I sat alone with my sister-in-law and watched her tears flow. While she tried to rejoice over my son’s marriage, her heart ached for her parents who’d died a few months earlier within weeks of each other. I listened and empathized. But I couldn’t begin to ease her pain that goes on and on.

That day of emotional highs and lows is how my year played out. I’d celebrate and send notes of congratulations for new-born babies and milestones like a 90th birthday. But, I mailed far more condolence cards.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn,” (Romans 12:15) reminds me that life isn’t all about me and mine. There’s a heap of happy and hurting people out there. We’re not meant to do life alone.

Weddings, births, illness, funerals call for community, charity, and compassion.

We gather as a community to cheer and encourage; empathize and support. 

We give flowers, meals, cards, gifts, acts of kindness to show we care about another person’s well being and what’s happening in their life. 

The difference between rejoicing and mourning lies in the effort and forethought it takes to enter into someone else’s happiness and sorrow. 

When we rejoice with those who rejoice, we know what to expect. We know our part. We show up. We laugh. We give gifts and words of affirmation. The moment is fleeting.

When we mourn with those who mourn, we’re often caught off guard. We sympathize (feel pity and sorrow) so we send a text or card with the familiar words, “So sorry.” “Thoughts and prayers are with you.” Empathy (being in the mourner’s shoes) prompts us to go the extra mile. Send flowers or a meal, make a donation in the deceased person’s memory. Attend a memorial.

“Mourn with those who mourn.”

Unlike rejoicing, grief has no timetable. People grieve differently. I try to be sensitive and reach out on a regular basis to see how the person is doing even when the individual appears to be “fine.” Even so, I wonder: Did I do enough? Does the person realize how much I care? Would they rather I leave them alone or behave like life is normal?

I reached the conclusion “mourning with those who mourn” is more about my attitude than a prescribed set of actions. When I love someone who’s grieving, I’m naturally inclined to make myself available. My heart’s desire is to ask the person how I can help and pray for them. I follow through!

Ultimately, only the God of all comfort—who sees and hears our cries—can wipe away a person’s tears and minister to their hearts.

His job’s too big for me. So I pray for these grief-stricken dear ones when they come to mind. I ask the Lord to use their sorrow to draw them closer to Himself. And By His grace, show them a reason to rejoice even in this…

How do you mourn with those who mourn? 

What did you find beneficial when others mourned with you?

Photos: mine

Author: Karen Foster

I'd like to say I've changed, but after decades of living, I still have the same four passions. My relationship with Jesus, spending time with family, attending live theater, and writing devotions & first-person stories about a loving, faithful God who reveals Himself in our every day circumstances.

6 thoughts on “Happy & Hurting People Need Others”

  1. Karen, did Jason get married?! Ack–I’m behind! What joy.

    This was so well said and I appreciate it being said. When I was morning the death of my boyfriend at age 25, a friend said “what do you feel like?” She wasn’t super close to me, yet she asked about me on the inside. I said “I feel like my insides have been vacuumed out.” Being able to express that helped me in that moment and still helps me today–who knew?

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    1. Yes, he got married. I’m sure I told you back when. 🙂 Time is fleeting. I agree the best thing we can do is listen when someone is hurting. We can’t begin to know the answers especially if we haven’t walked in their shoes.

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  2. Wow, you nailed it, girlfriend. Soooo many condolence cards recently. Your thoughts here are very helpful. I can easily list 20 people gone…not necessarily in my close sphere but the parents and siblings of people I know. Four neighbors in the last 6 months. A dear friend in Alabama, 67, succumbed to Covid, and another friends son-in-law is in week 3 of the battle. Clearly these times are different. Duane, 64, especially needs our prayers. They are homeland missionaries, dedicated to reaching people and have served the Lord for years. He was on the vent, came off a few days ago but yesterday had a stroke. Now they’ll need to do a trach, and do vent and feeding tube. The kids and grandkids are arriving, and thankfully the hospital in AZ is allowing visits.

    Your prayers are appreciated. Maybe one day we can actually pull off a cup of tea together. Love you, friend. 😘

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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    1. Terrie, Though we don’t get together often, I do love knowing you are a precious friend walking this journey with me. 🙂 I will pray for Duane. Can’t imagine his family’s heartache, and such a young man too! Here’s what another dear friend shared with me today. I want to pass it on in even others might read it here.

      Cathy shared: We’ve had more deaths as well these past months…John’s brother passed away last month so its hitting close to home! I’ve always found comfort in knowing that Jesus cried even when He knew that He was about to bring Lazarus back to life. He understands the human emotion of grief! And He not only sends the Comforter, but He also sends our brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage and walk alongside us when we’re hurting…even when the pain is so raw. He is a good, good Father!!! Ultimately its my responsibility to seek and follow His leading to those in need, but too often my life distracts me from His calling. Oh to be more in tune and obedient to His will! ♥

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  3. Soooooo glad you are writing again. Stirring up our thinking of how walking out life has so many ups and downs, or curves in the road. Relearning how when others hurt…we hurt with them to a greater degree than we thot possible. Compounded pain taking us to the cross for the help and comfort only He can give. All of this has felt so personal and on going. As kingdom people we have the benefit of community, but pain and sorrow still hurts. Gladly we have Him, His Spirit and His people. Thanks Karen. And thank you God for Your WAYS.

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