In our previous Post, we have discussed how could one follow the bible principle of blessing our enemies and how put it into practice.
I would like to move to another area that sometimes we tend to neglect.
Jesus once describes our world in this manner.
“To what then shall I liken the men of this
generation, and what are they like?
They are like children sitting in the marketplace
and calling to one another, saying:
‘We played the flute for you,
And you did not dance;
We mourned to you,
And you did not weep.’” – Jesus (Lk 7:31-32)
Many of the older generation kids will remember the days where they role-play a wedding or a funeral. In Jesus description here, the kids are role-playing a wedding but they refuse to be happy, likewise they are playing a funeral and yet no one is crying.
Do we share in the joy of others? When we see someone feeling sad, do we share in their sorrows? God has created human beings to be creatures with emotions. But why is it that the modern man is becoming more and more emotionless?
Sometimes we defend ourselves saying we are only emotionless to strangers. But the fact is, sometimes we treat our relatives in the same manner. We do not want to know what happens to them, nor do we want to show any concern or love.
We say with empathy “It is none of our business”. Yet we demand their presence when we celebrating a joyous occasion. We silently hope that they will come and share the joy with us. When we encounter times of grieving, we asked “Why are they not here when we are grieving? Are we still family or not?”
On one hand we accuse others of being heartless but we choose to be absent when they needed us. Human beings tend to be selfish, but it is not what God wanted his children to be.
Paul once encourage the church in this way.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” – Paul *(Rom 12:15)
Paul was giving 2 practical examples of how we could show care and concern for others. They are all according to what our Lord Jesus taught as well. Christians ought to be able to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.
If we show our care for others, the people will feel our concern for them even if we do not say a word.
The Difficulty Of Rejoicing With Those Who Rejoice
When it comes to rejoicing with those who rejoice, We often find it hard to practice in real life. Lets us consider the story of David and King Saul.
When David killed Goliath, everybody is rejoicing, but King Saul did not rejoice. In fact we know that he is unhappy and angry, he even wanted to kill David. The death of Goliath should bring much joy to King Saul. For Goliath is indeed the thorn in the flesh for King Saul.
When Goliath challenged the army of Israel, Saul did not dare to enter the battle field to fight him. Saul must have calculated the odds of beating Goliath, therefore he choose not to fight him.
Yet at this point of time, David came forward, killed Goliath with just a sling and 5 stones. Saul should be happy that his nemesis was killed. I believe that King Saul was happy about the fact that David killed Goliath.
However the problem started when the women started to sing.
“Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.”- The women of Israel (1 Sam 18:7)
That was when King Saul got upset saying
“They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” – King Saul (1 Sam 18:8 )
He is afraid of David stealing his glory, and he eyed David from then onwards.
Indeed, this is a record of selfishness in the hearts of man, sometimes our pride and selfishness prevent us from rejoicing with others.
Sometimes, when we are invited to rejoice and celebrate with others, we attend the event just because we know that it would be rude to refuse. But as we raise our glass and propose a toast to him, sometimes we murmur in our heart, “Why is he more successful than me?”
But yet my friends, if we take a step back and reconsider this. If the man before us had failed and is feeling miserable. Will we reason and asked “Why did this happen to him and not me?”
Indeed, our hearts often bends toward evil, that is why we need to correct it often.
Sometimes, it is better that we could share the success of others, and be happy with their achievement. But only by letting go ourr pride and selfishness, than it is possible to share the joy of others.
Perhaps we can learn from the person and learn how he achieve his success. But we could only do so if we could share his joy.
The Difficulty Of Weeping With Those Who Weep
In life, many of us like to go to weddings and not funeral. This is because in funerals there are always weeping and death. We may be full of hope and happiness but yet once we enter a funeral parlor, our mood will be dampened and our hearts heavy.
However, King Solomon once said
“Better to go to the house of mourning Than to go to the house of feasting, For that is the end of all men; And the living will take it to heart.” – King Solomon (Eccl 7:2)
In our life on earth, we will definitely encounter painful and sorrowful situation. If we could learn to bring comfort to others in times of sadness, it would benefits us in the future. For if we encounter the same situation in the future, our hearts will be ready even if there is no one to comfort and cry with us. It would be easier for us to be victorious over our sadness.
It is never easy to recover from a hurt, for sometimes the hurt will remain for 5-10 years. There are people who cannot overcome it and suffers from depression for the rest of their lives.
Therefore to weep with those who weep, helps us overcome our own sadness.
Understanding How Sympathy Works
If we want to learn how to comfort others, we need to understand and care for them first. Sometimes when we try to offer comfort, we may make bold statements by accident. Statements like
“Why are you so afraid? Where is your faith in God?”
“Have you not encountered death before? Why are you so sad?”
But usually such display of “strength” does not encourage.
There was a farmer who owned a pig, a sheep and a cow. Every year he would lead the sheep out to shear him. He would take a cow out of his pen and milk the cow on a daily basis. Usually he would leave the pig alone in his pen.
There is a day, the farmer wanted to catch the pig. The pig was squealing and struggling in his pen, making a great commotion within the Barn. At this time, Mr Sheep and Miss Cow shook their their heads in disbelieve and remarked “Hey Mr Pig, we are often taken away by the farmer and we never complained. Why are you squealing and struggling here? Why are you making so much noise?”
So the pig while struggling, shouted back , “The Farmer only wanted wool and milk from you , but now he wants my life, how can I not struggle?
Sometimes we cannot understand the difficulty faced by others, that why we tend comfort them with “forceful words”. Perhaps its time for us to rethink the Idiom “To Put Yourself In Someone Else Shoe”
I find this English Idiom interesting, for sometimes if we walk using our own shoe, we may find the road easy and comfortable. But then if you were to put on someone elses shoe and walk the same path, one may find the road not as comfy as walking in our own shoe.
The Chinese uses a similar idiom “ 将心比心” which is literally to compare heart to heart. If one were to do that, then we can understand how he feels.
In order to have sympathy one would need to have understanding. Understanding can only be achieved if you were to put on someone else’s shoe and walk in his path.
Jn 11:35 is the shortest verse in the bible, everyone can remember this verse It reads “Jesus Wept”. This is a verse that comfort many.
However, There are some over logical and analytical theologian who now claimed that Jesus was being hypocritical when he weep. They base their reasoning based on their logic. They even provided two reason to proof their point
Reason 1 : Jesus already knew of Lazarus death long before he died. The fact is that Jesus choose to come only after the death or Lazarus
Reason 2 : Jesus had already planned to resurrect Lazarus from the grave. Since he already know that Lazarus will be resurrected, why did he still weep?
Sometimes, these logical and rational minds fail to consider emotions in their reasoning. As the result, they ended up accusing Jesus of being a hypocrite. I believe that Jesus indeed wept and it is of a great significance to me.
When we watch moving scenes in movies or read a sad story, occasionally we would weep as well. This is because we have put ourselves in the shoes of the characters. In my opinion, when Jesus saw the people weeping for Lazarus , he can understand their pain and anguish, so therefore he wept with them.
The weeping of Jesus gives strength and comfort to the people around, and he gave them the strength. That is why the author of Hebrews says this.
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Author Of Hebrews (Heb 4:15-16)
Sometimes, when we encounter sorrows, we can try to tell others our sorrow. But people may not be able to understand, some may even rebuke and make fun of us. They may not be able to weep with us.
But Jesus understand our pain, he will weep with us. This is because he understands our weakness, therefore we should come to him with all our pain and sorrows. He will comfort and encourage us. For his weeping brings comfort to many around. We can ask him for help.