“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15
It’s an emotional time of year. We remember the veterans who fought for our freedom; we give thanks that we live in lands brave and free. We prepare our hearts to remember the coming of the Christ-child. It’s important to take time to slow down. To reflect. To be present: to ourselves, to God, and to those close to us.
We know that an important sign of the Holy Spirit is joy, but often we interpret that to mean that a Christian must be cheerful at all times. We take it upon ourselves to smile and say “God has a plan!” when we see suffering or pain. We are quick with our ‘alleluias’ and with our promises — “I’ll say a prayer for you!” but often slow with our sitting and our empathizing.
It's not about sympathy or pity. Check out this insightful video on the true meaning of empathy
It’s so important to take time to be present to those around us. Jesus’ ministry was characterized by time spent sitting with people when there were places to go and people to evangelize. He sat and let the woman at Bethany grieve for her sins at His feet without interrupting her, was patient with the anger of His apostles, a constant rock to those in His presence.
We have the ability, and I think a responsibility, to slow down and empathize with those around us. To weep with those who weep, not just to brush off pain with a promise of prayer or God’s plan. To rejoice with those who rejoice, not just to move onto the next interesting thing.
Lord, help me to be present and to be patient with those around me. Help me to understand the gift of empathy, of understanding both joy and sorrow, and of creating a safe space for the people You treasure. I love You Lord, and pray that You would make me more like You. Amen.
Next time you’re tempted to utter the words “I’ll pray for you!” or “God has a plan!” check yourself. Take a seat and love your neighbor by being present in their pain or their joy.
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