Romans 12:15- Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.
Human emotion is often a mystery to us as Christians. Embrace it, validate it, shun it… huh? It’s hard sometimes. We want to be sympathetic. There is nothing wrong with that. We want to understand people… but that can mean understanding their sins, and that seems problematic because we are supposed to hate sin with a fiery passion (I would say fiery like Hell, but maybe Hell isn’t the best topic right now). I am inclined to believe that you can understand something without agreeing with it, but that’s just me.
Mourn with those who mourn, rejoice with those who rejoice. Okay, it sounds easy enough. But what does it really mean? Party with your happy friends, get bummed out with your sad friends? Does it mean that you shouldn’t tell a whiney loved one that he should try and see the bright side every once in a while?
From personal experience, I would say that in a lot of instances, sympathy goes a long way farther than rebuke. Compassion and sympathy are good and Biblical, as long as you are not justifying sin, rather you are just seeing something from another perspective and acknowledging that you could have found yourself in the same uncomfortable spot.
When people sympathize with me, well, it makes me feel better, simplistic as it seems. It does not make me feel like I should continue to wallow in sadness. It often empowers me. I think, “you know, it’s really not all as bad as that. I can keep on going, I can get through this and LIVE.”
But when people tell me to be happy… oh, man, I don’t want to do anything but be miserable for the rest of my life. It’s because I know already that I should be “happy” and grateful. Maybe if you think deep down that someone doesn’t know that, you may be able to gently steer him along towards the sunshine. But very gently.
That’s why we should sympathize with one another. And when all else fails, God will sympathize with us. If Jesus didn’t feel sorry for us sinners, He wouldn’t have given us a way out. He would have been like, “too bad you suckers.” He wants us to save us from the sin, because He knows that once we are disentangled, we can be free to do great things. The Lord is the great encourager. I just read how in 1 Kings 19, He sent an angel to cheer up Elijah when Elijah basically felt like dying. I think that’s a familiar enough feeling. And a cake even appeared for him to eat! What a nice gesture. And Elijah went on to fast for forty days and receive news on who was to be the next king of Israel. Can I get a REDEMPTION!
God will provide. He will encourage, enlighten, sustain, even sympathize. Just today, I got two of my prayers answered at once. He doesn’t want us to be miserable, even though it seems that way sometimes. He offers up his hand to us so we can stand, and He wants us to go forth and live.