The Deeper and Wider Life

Rejoice with those who rejoice; 
mourn with those who mourn.
-Romans 12:15 (NIV)
The Christian has both a deeper joy and a deeper grief than others, because he lives a deeper and a wider life, because his heart trembles into sympathy with human gladness and sorrow all over the world.
-R. Abercrombie (1)
When we hear good news, we want to be happy with that person, and when we hear bad news, we want to be sad with them.  Something is wrong, when we can not rejoice with people, and something is lacking, when we are not able come come along side, and mourn with people.

When we are in Christ, walking in his love, we can freely celebrate with others and freely be with others who are grieving.  Our hearts are already filled and being filled with God's love and we are intimately walking in God's love.

Envy, jealousy, and a spirit of competition, have no place in our hearts, if we are walking in Christ, because we know we are loved by God.  If these feelings come up, then we need to turn our hearts towards God, and live loved, more. We need more love from God.  His well is unlimited, it is up to us to go to that well, and then live in that love.

If you have an envious or jealous reaction, or if you are tempted to mourn when someone rejoices; then it is like a warning light, that says you are low on something.  Seek out what you are lacking and get some.  In a word, you need more of God, more of God's love in your life.  If you know you are loved and if you know that God is good, then you can be happy for others, even when they get something you want, and do not have.

There is no substitute for a personal relationship with God, where you receive God's love, and walk it out in your life, knowing that God loves you.  And this is the goal of God on the earth, to get people loved.  And this is the mission of the church.

The song that encapsulates the good news, that should be in the hearts, and on the lips, of every Christian is:
"Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones, to him belong. They are weak, but he is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so."
A tragedy of our day, are people who are in the church, in Christ, but do not know that they are loved.  They do not fully live lives of knowing they are loved.  We are supposed to be loving each other as Christians so much, that the onlooking, non-believing world, would know that Jesus Christ is real.

The goal is love.  Where is the love?  If I know I am loved, then I can rejoice in any good thing that happens to you.  Envy and jealousy are foreign to me, when I am living loved by God.  That's where I want to live, don't you?

When someone is hurting, weeping, or grieving; we do not want to, "rejoice with those who mourn", by quoting Bible verses, which feel like salt in the wound.  As Joni Eareckson Tada said, "they don’t want answers. Because answers don’t reach the problems where it hurts in the gut, in the heart."

The key is the little word, "with".  Rejoice with, mourn with.  Be with people.  That's what God wants to do and it is what he wants us to do.  Be with people, where they are.

Being jealous of someone is not being with them.   Trying to fix people or give answers to mourners, also is not being with them.  People who are in shock from a loss are vulnerable.  They need hugs, they need presence, they just need someone to stand, sit, or lay beside them.  They need comfort.  That's the "with".

There are seven words to say, from a sincere heart, for any loss, and then to be quiet, to just be there, and be with, and listen:
"I am so sorry for your loss".    
Then stop, be quite.  No advice, no platitudes, no analysis, no teaching, no fixing, and no answers.  Hugs are good.  Bowing your head, or crying with them, is best.

The person experiencing loss is the one who may analyze, try to figure out, and even curse God.  Do not join in with them.  It will be very tempting, if you are a fixer, a teacher, and even a healer.  They might search for answers, out loud, and your role is not to give them answers, but to be with them in their mourning.  You are not to control and not to get your selfish needs met.

Do you know what one of Joni's friends did, to mourn with her?  Her friend got next her, and sung her a hymn about Jesus, "Man of sorrows what a name, for the Son of God, who came. ruined sinners to reclaim, Hallelujah, what a Savior".  That was comforting to her:
Hallelujah … I get choked up thinking about it 45 years later. She gave me something that night that was priceless. She helped me encounter Jesus Christ in a warm and personal way. That’s how precious the body of Christ is to healing the hearts of those who are hurting, to come up close to them, to infuse into their spiritual veins life, hope, healing, health. That’s what Jackie gave me that night. She gave me Jesus in a real and personal way. That’s really what I needed. So, Patrick Henry students: Don’t you dare be caught rejoicing with those who weep. Weep with those who weep.

(1) R. Abercrombie's quotes and notes