Jump Start # 2097
Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
This verse came to my mind yesterday. I received an email from someone very dear to me. Their email included pictures of the family taken on a trip. Everyone was smiling and happy. They were letting me know that they were having a great time and that all was well. The next email in my box was from another dear friend. He was telling me of a death in the family. I could almost feel the tears as he wrote to me. Later in the day, another email, from another friend. His wife was in the emergency room of the hospital. He wanted me to pray for her. Then before bed, another email. It was from someone in another state who wanted advice about a delicate situation going on in the congregation they attended. Then I Facetimed some of the grandkids. They were eating push-pops in the backyard and tried to give me a taste through the phone. Some day that will probably work.
Good news and bad news. Concerning times and carefree times. Laughter, smiles and tears—all in the same day. Vacation time for some, funeral time for others. Several thoughts come from days like this:
First, we do not all go through the same emotions or experiences at the same time. One family is on vacation and another family is saying goodbye to a loved one. It’s easy to think that everyone feels the same as I do. They don’t. Rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep may happen within the same day. Not everyone that walks into the church building is upbeat, excited and glad to be there. Some come with guilt. Some come with fear and worry. Some have questions. Some are not sure.
Second, our verse doesn’t tell us to change the feelings of others. We have no trouble rejoicing with those who rejoice. However, when it comes to the weeping part, we do all that we can to get them to stop that. Think about other things, we say. Count your blessings, we say. We like using cute little expressions such as, turn your lemons into lemonade. That makes us feel good, but it doesn’t help a family who is arranging a funeral. Paul tells us to weep with them. Don’t turn weeping into rejoicing. Don’t change the person. Join them in their sorrow. Comfort them. Be there for them.
Third, life is a mixture of emotions. I sure got that lesson from one days’ worth of emails. Up and down. Happy and sad. Good times and sad times. That’s the construction of life. There are mountain top moments and there are valleys. This is not only true of our emotions but also our journey with the Lord. There are times when we feel strong and confident. Worship is a joy and fellowship is powerful. Then there are times when we don’t feel like being around others. There are times we must make ourselves go to worship. There are times when the valley never seems to end. An old Bible expression is “It came to pass.” I tell people it comes to pass, it never comes to stay. But two powerful tools that helps us is our faith and prayer. In good times, it makes us count our blessings and be thankful. In terrible times, it makes us hold on to God’s hand and seek Him. Up and down, like that roller coaster, is life. The phone rings and it might bring good news or it may bring bad news. Jesus said that the rains descend and the floods come. Often they come quickly. Often they come at times that are not the best for us. We often think that life is a smooth canoe ride down a gentle river with bits of rough water here and there. But reality tells us that our journey is a white water excursion with moments of calm here and there.
Fourth, our verse, rejoicing and weeping, reminds us that we are in need of different things. Some need encouragement. Some need prayers. Some want celebration and some want to be alone. Underneath our verse also reminds us that our spiritual makeup and our spiritual health can help us or hurt us during these times. Some may go overboard with the celebrating in times of rejoicing. Others may give up when it comes to weeping. The stronger our faith, the more we will be able to journey through those periods as God wants us to. This is true of our worship. Some want to sing those old, slow songs. This is where there mind and spirit are. Others, want those peppy new songs. That’s where their spirit and mind are. Some want lite sermons about a happy text, others want to lower the net into something very heavy and hard. The weepers and the rejoicers, together in a worship. I preached recently in a meeting about troublesome times. The audience was full of people I knew. I had preached funerals for these people. I knew their stories. So, I started talking about death and what they had been through. At the end, everyone was crying. We were thinking about Heaven, our loved ones and the hope that is in Christ. I thought to myself, ‘great job, preacher. You got the entire place bawling.’ Sometimes you can’t avoid what needs to be talked about.
Fifth, the ability to rejoice with others and to weep with others often comes from our own experiences. We’ve been there. Got the T-shirt. We have had happy times. Rejoicing after baptisms. Sharing pictures of new grandchildren. Telling others about vacation travels. Fun times. Rejoice with those that rejoice. Let them tell their story. Let them brag about their family. Don’t try to out do their story. My vacation was better than that. My grandkids could do that years ago. Don’t go there. That’s not rejoicing with those who rejoice. You are stealing their moment and drawing the attention to you. It’s not about you.
But we have also been the ones who have cried. I remember, with tears running down my cheeks, praying from the pulpit for the Lord to take my mom. She was dying of cancer and it was time. The whole place was crying. I remember walking into the church building after a dear friend had passed away. He wasn’t there. It just didn’t seem the same. Use those experiences to help those who weep. Again, listen. Don’t make your sad story worse than theirs. Don’t do all the talking. Weep with them. Tears come when you care. Tears come when you have a heart. Tears come when you love.
What ties this passage all together is our fellowship. Having someone to rejoice with, and, having someone to weep with. How empty it is to have something exciting, but having no one to share it with. Or, how heartbreaking it is to be so sad and have no one to comfort you. Our fellowship is simply that, fellows in a ship. Together we experience the journey together. Good times. Bad times. Plain ole’ everyday times. Your words can help lift a heart. Your joy can help bring a sparkle to someone’s eyes.
Weeping and rejoicing. At the moment, you may not feel either, but you can share and help others. Together, with the Lord, we journey through life. You and me. We need each other. We are made for each other. Even though we may seem so different, we are really pretty much the same on the inside.
Be there for others.