“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
I always thought that was a simple verse. Be happy when others are happy and sad when others are sad. Got it. Moving on.
But I was wrong. While I’m somewhat OK at doing the second part, I’m finding I’m not so great at rejoicing with those who rejoice.
Rejoice with your friend who got the job you wanted.
Rejoice with all those sending you wedding invitations when you mark “1″ on the RSVP card.
Rejoice with coworkers getting promoted over you.
Rejoice with those moving to bigger houses and buying better cars.
Rejoice with family members having baby after baby when you are struggling to get pregnant.
Rejoice with those living their dreams.
Rejoice with those rejoicing because they’ve been given the very thing you’ve been hoping, praying, begging, and pleading God to give you your whole life.
Rejoicing with those who rejoice is a hard thing to do.
I once heard a man say he taught his children this by being deliberately unfair with what he gave them. All his children (he had many) were loved and punished fairly (if need arose), but he would not be “fair” in his gift-giving. For example, when he went on business trips, he might’ve brought a gift home for one of his children. When he got home, he gathered them all together and said, “Everyone, look! I bought Suzy a doll to add to her collection! Aren’t you all so happy Suzy got a doll?”
It sounds crazy, but it seemed to work. He told of a time when he was in the car with Son #2 and got a call inviting Son #1 and himself to a ball game. He told Son #2, “Guess what! That was a call from Coach. He wants to invite Son #1 and me to the game tonight.” Son #2 responded not by saying, “Why can’t I go?,” but by asking if he could personally call Son #1 to tell him the good news.
I want to be like that. I want to be so thrilled when my Heavenly Father gives gifts to others, that I don’t even think about being left out. I think perhaps joy is the opposite of jealousy. If you’re truly rejoicing with those who rejoice, maybe you don’t have time to remember they have something you don’t. Joy is selfless.
I want to genuinely rejoice with those who rejoice, even if I feel more like weeping. It’s my prayer these days, as I’m finding myself surrounded more and more by those who rejoice: Let me rejoice, God. Let me rejoice with those rejoicing.
Elizabeth Hyndman’s day job is at a church. Her night job is grad school. She’s a rare Nashville native who uses lots of parentheses. Keep up with Elizabeth regularly at her blog: edhyndman.com.