Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
The Amplified Bible adds a bit of understanding to this verse, ”Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief].” Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four-year-old child, whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman, who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy just said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”
I can sure relate to that little boy. There are times when friends or co-workers are suffering a loss or are in a very painful situation and I just want to be near them – and ‘help them cry’. Unfortunately, we can become paralyzed because we don’t know what to say. This can lead to saying or doing nothing out of fear of being embarrassed or causing more hurt. The Lord wants us to move forward, not hold back. It’s helpful to recognize the value in quiet presence. Often it’s not what we say, but the thoughtfulness of being there – our presence, a gentle touch, a compassionate smile. Sometimes a simple phone call to friends who are in mourning can mean a great deal. We briefly tell them we love them; are praying for them and just wanted them to know we cared. If ever there was a time when, “It’s the thought that counts,” applied, it’s in times of mourning.
The other side of the coin is rejoicing with those who are rejoicing. One of the wonderful attributes we can develop is that of having vicarious pleasure when wonderful things happen to people we care about. This is the opposite of jealousy. Dear friends of ours have had their home on the market and it just sold. At the same time they found a wonderful home that they are buying. What a time to rejoice with them! Part of the rejoicing will mean we get to help them move. That is part of our rejoicing with them!
Hopefully we are making a priority of building lasting relationships. It’s so important that we are close enough to those around us so we know what is going on. Friends – particularly Christian friends – are so wonderful to have when it comes to sharing the highs and lows of life. That’s what friends are for – we get to be there for each other.