Weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15). There is a lot of power in that word “with.” Most of us are familiar with these commands but, if we think of them at all, find them awfully uncomfortable. Weeping and rejoicing—those are vulnerable expressions. And vulnerability is personal and scary. Risky, even.
When do you weep?
We weep at loss, at fear, at our complete lack of control or hope. We weep when our wife says she is leaving, or when our child is diagnosed with leukemia, or when our boss says he has to let us go. We don’t often weep publicly, of course. We weep when we are in the car or at home, alone. We weep when there is no more illusion of control, or of being able to fix the situation, or of even being able to put one foot in front of the other.
Now, think of when you rejoice.
We rejoice at the utterly unexpected and when the thread of hope we’ve clung to turns out to be a lifeline, pulling us to safety. We rejoice when our wife returns, when the doctor says “the scans are clean,” when the tax return comes just in time to replenish the bank account.
Times of weeping and rejoicing are deep, poignant, and often our own. They are deeply personal, right? They are my expressions of pain or joy. You can keep yours over there, thanks.
Let me pose a “what if” question, though. What if, as Hebrews says, we were “in the habit of meeting together” and being genuinely concerned for one another? (Hebrews 10:25). What if we were with each other in joy and sorrow?
Such meeting together has saved my soul, or very nearly so. A group of close friends were the ones who wept with me as I wrestled through faith and marriage and job crises over the years. They rejoiced with me at every grace God poured out, and sometimes they rejoiced for me when I was too blind do so. They didn’t treat my sorrows or joys as mine only. They were ours, and in being ours, burdens were divided and happiness was multiplied.
With means far more than “I’ll pray for you.” It means praying with you. It means far more than congratulating a friend. It means celebrating with them because you feel their joy. With means uniquely reflecting God’s image. God turns His face to the sorrowful and the hurting. He doesn’t ignore or abandon. He knows our suffering because Christ suffered all that we suffer. Christ promises rest for those who are weary of carrying unbearable weight (Galatians 6:2). You and I are called to be the hands and hearts and voices to share in this sort of care, this rest, this understanding by weeping and rejoicing with others. It is holy work.
Written by Barnabas Piper