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.
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?