Rejoice with those who rejoice: weep with those who weep. Live together in harmony. ~ Romans 12:15-16
Rejoice and weep are big words. They call for more than the perfunctionary Gee, I’m so happy for you; or Gosh I’m so sorry. When we bump into someone else’s emotions, if we linger at all, we often tell when we should listen; we try to fix when we should feel.
We want a cure. We want to be the cure. We offer a promise or a pill or a platitude or even a prayer, while remaining emotionally removed. We may not have learned to tame the tongue, but we’ve certainly learned to tame the heart. It stays in its place, rarely venturing out into the depths of the joy or the grief of another.
We focus a lot on the weeping part, but I don’t think we even know how to rejoice with those who rejoice – not really. It’s a good place to start because there’s less vulnerability in joy than in sorrow. Oh, we act happy. We smile and nod but we don’t lose a lot of prayer time thanking God for someone else’s joy. It might get a mention, but we are Out of sight, out of mind people.
Rejoice, weep, live together in harmony.
As we spend time celebrating the good and quietly holding hands through the bad, we develop a reverence for each other’s hearts that overshadows any doctrinal or philosophical discord. Once you’ve really rejoiced with another in their happiness and wept with them in their pain, you begin to see them through the tender eyes of grace.
Conversely, have you ever skipped a stone, watching it skim across the surface? It’s almost like the stone is walking on water. That’s the illusion. It sinks, eventually. It’s the same way with people. We can become masterful at pretend joy and pretend grief, but all we’re doing is skimming the surface. It’s not harmony, it’s lip-syncing.