Life’s Dichotomy: Rejoicing and Weeping

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Romans 12:15

 

Today, I want to focus on one verse from the book of Romans. Romans 12:15 says, "Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep." This verse highlights life's dichotomy of rejoicing and weeping.

Did you know the word "economy" originates from the Greek language and means “to divide into two contrasting or opposing things.” Practically, it refers to creating clear distinctions between mutually exclusive options, ideas, or experiences. In nature, we observe this dichotomy with spring showers accompanied by sunshine.

Mothers experience the dichotomy of labor challenges and childbirth's joys. Similarly, parents experience the excitement of dropping off their child on the first day of kindergarten, followed by tears as they drive away.

Some years thereafter, that same kindergartener graduates from high school. You now experience anxiety as you move to yet another phase.

Maybe you sit there silently, hoping that the fulfillment and excitement of having your check directly deposited into your account will outweigh the sadness of automatic bill payments taking away your entire check.

For those who have stood before the altar, you remember the economy in that declaration of love and fidelity. You vowed to take your partner as your spouse, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, to love and cherish until death do you part.

Life consists of experiences - the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the peaks and valleys. We all try to harmonize these conflicting experiences of life.

Consider the story of Job. In Job 1:21, Job acknowledges the realities of life by saying that he came into the world with nothing and will leave with nothing, but still blesses the Lord. Despite his wife's urging to curse God and die, Job responds in Job 2:10 by questioning whether we should only expect good from God and not also misfortune. Job 13:15 further exemplifies his trust in God, even if God were to kill him.

Another example is seen in the experience of Paul and Silas in Acts 16. Despite being beaten and incarcerated, they choose to sing and praise God at midnight.

In Romans 12:15, believers are encouraged to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. This reflects the complexity of human emotions and experiences and challenges us to be fully engaged and present in the lives of others. It emphasizes the importance of compassion, empathy, and supporting one another in all circumstances.

By rejoicing and mourning with others, believers cultivate a supportive and uplifting environment that reflects love, care, and compassion, as taught by Christ.

As we enter the holiday season, it is important to recognize that some may be celebrating while others may be experiencing difficulties.

This passage urges believers to rejoice with those who are joyful and weep with those who are sorrowful. During the holidays, people experience a wide range of emotions - joy, gladness, glee, sorrow, sadness, and loneliness.

We must be empathetic and compassionate towards those going through a difficult time during this season. We should remember that everyone faces challenges, and our response should be one of love and support for all, regardless of their circumstances. Not everyone has a merry Christmas despite what retailers and movies may market.

Depression during the holiday season is a reality that affects many people. Feelings of shame, loneliness, and loss often accompany it. Some may dismiss these feelings, but they are real to those experiencing them. Depression during the holidays is not uncommon, with millions of people worldwide and a significant percentage of adults in the US experiencing it.

“Winter Blues,” a term used to describe this phenomenon, can cause extreme anxiety due to time and financial constraints. The pressure to give and receive gifts also adds to the worry. The causes of holiday blues or winter blues can vary, but may include past experiences of depression and anxiety.

As Christmas approaches, many people are feeling anxious. They have to meet their loved ones and put on a fake smile, even when there are tensions and disagreements. Financial pressures and societal expectations of gift-giving only add to the stress. Traveling can also be a source of anxiety, with rising ticket prices.

For some, this season is especially difficult because it reminds them of the loss of a loved one. They must face empty chairs and a lack of presents under the tree. However, in life's challenges, the Apostle Paul encourages us to rejoice with those who are happy and to empathize with those who are sad. We live in the tension of these contrasting experiences.

The Call to Compassion

So, how can we do it? Here's the answer, don't miss it:

Compassion: As believers, we must embody the compassion of Christ even during difficult times. A heart of compassion is essential as we navigate the holiday season and reach out to hurting people.

Acknowledge and validate: One critical step towards developing compassion is to acknowledge the pain and struggles of others. Actively listen, engage with empathy, and validate the emotions and experiences that others may be having.

In other words, my feelings are valid, and you have no right to invalidate them. I am experiencing pain, grief, sadness, and loneliness. As a result, you should not dismiss or disregard my feelings.

The reality is that we all face challenges in coping with grief, loneliness, financial difficulties, and other hardships. As the body of Christ, we must show compassion by empathizing with others' feelings and understanding their challenges. Empathy means putting ourselves in their shoes and seeking to understand their emotions and difficulties.

It is not enough to simply acknowledge their pain; we should also associate ourselves with their feelings. This association demonstrates empathy. People need more than just sympathy; they need empathy, which includes listening, kindness, understanding, and support.

Paul's call to rejoice with those who are rejoicing and weep with those who are weeping challenges us to show compassion and comfort. During the holiday season, individuals often face challenges and seek comfort in their crises. We believers are called to embrace this challenge by offering genuine support.

To do so, we need to step out of our comfort zones and enter into the crisis zones of others, providing solace, support, and strength. God comforts us and enables us to extend that comfort to others.

The Challenge of Comfort

To embrace the challenge of comfort, we need to cultivate a safe space where vulnerability is embraced. This means creating an environment where individuals can freely express their feelings without fear of judgment. It is okay not to be okay, and we should allow others to share their hurts, anger, and frustrations openly.

We shouldn't rush to give theological explanations or quote scriptures but simply be present with them, offering a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. Sometimes, they need someone to be there, providing tissues and allowing them to cry and lament. The ministry of presence and the willingness to listen and support without judgment are powerful acts of comfort.

If you are struggling this holiday season, just let it all out. Cry as much as you want. God is not bothered by this. Lamenting is mentioned in a book called Lamentations in the Bible. God understood the necessity and natural inclination to lament when people are hurting.

The book of Psalms also contains many instances of lamentation. There are even places in Scripture where people question God, asking how long and why. God, where are you? What's going on? Do you know the old church saying that God may not come when you want Him, but He's always on time?

Cultivating a Safe Place of Vulnerability

Here's the reality: cultivating a safe place of vulnerability requires suspending comments and judgment. A safe space requires a non-judgmental attitude. We can't change what has already happened.

Let me show you how to create a safe space. A safe space is a place of empathy, compassion, and confidentiality. We must cultivate a safe place for empathetic listening to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Empathetically listen to the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of others.

The Consolation Through Community

In other words, God created us to be interdependent. We need each other, and God has placed us in the body of Christ, known as the Community of Faith. This community serves as a network of supportive individuals who provide solace, consolation, and encouragement to one another.

Going through life alone in grief, depression, and anxiety is not ideal. We can learn from Elijah's mistake in running into the wilderness without his companion. We need someone to talk to and support us when we feel overwhelmed.

Consolation through community happens when we bear one another's burdens. Life was never meant for us to carry all our burdens alone. As Paul says in Galatians 6:2, we are to bear one another's burdens and fulfill the law of Christ, which is love. We need someone who stands with us in solidarity and community, someone we can trust.

So, let go of the cape of trying to be a superhero and recognize when something is too much for you to handle alone. Men, it takes nothing from your masculinity to say that this is a bit too much. I'm about to lose my mind. It takes nothing from you, sister. You may think, “I don't need anybody.” But I will see how far you can get through life without needing anybody. Life can put weights on you that will bring you to your knees, and when you get there, that's a good posture before the Lord.

Not only do I need someone coming alongside to help me bear my burdens, but in this consolation through community, there's also the bolstering of one another's beliefs. We're building one another in believing.

The Bolstering of One Another’s Belief

You've got to have somebody on your side who can intercede when you can't pray for yourself. You need somebody who's your intercessor and not your instigator. You need somebody to go down on a bow, bend their knees, and pray on your behalf. Even when I don't have faith in myself, I need somebody else to believe in me and encourage me.

You remember David, right? He was anointed as the next king of Israel. Saul, who the Sovereign fired, is Jonathan's father. Saul became so paranoid of David's presence that he started chasing him to assassinate him.

One day, David ran for his life into the wilderness. Jonathan acknowledged that God's hand was on David and that he was assigned and anointed to be the next king of Israel. Jonathan was fine not being the king as long as he could support the King Maker. Jonathan went to David in the woods and said, "David, it's time for you to strengthen your faith in God.”

You don't need friends like Joe. You need friends like Jonathan. Someone who will encourage you, remind you to stay positive, and motivate you to keep going because you still have a future and destiny.

Conclusion

Here's my message: I understand this holiday can be tough for some. You may be trying to hide your pain behind smiles and festivities, but deep down, you're hurting. I want you to know I'm here for you, as your friend Craig.

I pray that God will give you strength and comfort during this difficult season. I pray that you will find the peace of God that goes beyond understanding, even in your struggles.

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