Best of Daily Reflections: Weep With Those Who Weep
Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.
I grew up in a culture that was uncomfortable with sadness. When children cried, they were urged to stop. If adults broke down in public, they usually apologized, even if their grief was completely understandable. My own family of origin shared my culture’s discomfort with unhappiness. If one of my relatives showed the slightest sign of sadness, my job was to “cheer them up.” What I was taught in church reaffirmed what I had learned from my culture and my family. We Christians were supposed to be joyful, not sad.
Somehow we managed to overlook the plain exhortation of Romans 12:15. Oh, we were more than ready to “be happy with those who are happy.” But weeping with those who weep was something we overlooked . . . or disregarded . . . or disobeyed. To be sure, there are plenty of biblical passages that urge us to be joyful (for example, Philippians 4:4). But Romans 12:15 clearly tells us to sympathize with those who are sad, even to weep with them, not to strive to get them to stop crying.
If we are going to do what Romans 12:15 urges, then we need to stop and listen empathically to those who are grieving. We will weep with them only as our own hearts begin to share in their pain. Thus this verse requires that we be vulnerable, even as it depends upon the vulnerability of others. Both weepers and “weeper-with” must take risks. Yet with these risks comes the promise of deeper and truer relationships. Plus, when you have truly shared in the suffering of others, you will be ready to share more profoundly in their joy.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What have been your cultural and familial messages about sadness? Have you ever wept with someone who was weeping? Or have you ever experienced this kind of sympathy? What happened?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you for calling us to deep intimacy and mutual care in your body. When we weep with those who weep, we find that our relationships are more meaningful, more permanent, more transforming.
But, you know, Lord, how much I struggle to do what Romans 12:15 requires. I can find people’s sadness to be unsettling. Plus I don’t want them to be in pain. So I want so much not to weep with them, but to get them to stop. Help me, gracious God, to live out this verse in my life: with my family, my colleagues, my friends, my brothers and sisters at church, and all those you bring into my life. Give me a tender heart for those who hurt and the willingness to feel their pain.
I thank you most of all, dear Lord, for entering into our suffering through the Incarnation. You have modeled the kind of costly intimacy and vulnerability that you expect of us. How good you are to us! Amen.