Rejoicing & Not So Much Rejoicing

Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” This verse has been floating around the back of my mind lately. I suspect that this is because over the past couple weeks, I have had the joyful opportunity of sitting with friends, both new and old, and hearing joyful news from them. I have heard stories of new jobs, new ministry opportunities, and new events in the lives of children. Each of these conversations has been life giving and full of joy. Also, over the past several weeks, I have heard gut wrenching stories of pain and loss. Stories that have left me simultaneously in tears and in awe of the resiliency of the human heart and mind in the face of overwhelming adversity. These experiences are not unique to me. All of us have had joyful conversations and sad conversations over the past days, weeks, and months. But as these conversations have occurred in my life, I have continued to return to this brief sentence from Paul telling us to rejoice with those who are rejoicing and to mourn with those who are mourning. This statement seems somewhat self-evident. But it can be harder to apply than we may think.


All of us have had moments of rejoicing in our own lives and in the lives of those we love. The announcement of a long-awaited engagement, the birth of a beautiful new baby, receiving the call that we are being offered the job that we have so desperately wanted. These moments are full of excitement and joy that is so overwhelming we are almost compelled to tell everyone. And often, when these moments are occurring in the lives of others, we are also excited! We are thrilled that those we love are experiencing such immense joy. However, these moments can also lead to darker responses. Responses such as jealousy and envy. We can begin to wonder why things always work out for others and not for us. When will our day arrive? Paul is reminding us that, as believers, we are called to set those responses aside and rejoice with our brothers and sisters who are rejoicing. We are being called to love and support them in their success without being weighed down by jealousy and envy. If we find ourselves in that darker place, it is time to seek the Lord and ask that we can shed that and join in the rejoicing.


Just as with rejoicing, we have all experienced the reality of mourning. The death of a loved one or loss of a relationship. Sometimes mourning is associated with far darker experiences such as abuse and neglect. These moments in life leave us feeling disoriented and sad. What those who are mourning so often need is someone who is willing to simply be present. A person who will listen if that is what is needed. Or a person who will sit in silence, simply lending their presence. Mourning is something we often like to keep to ourselves because in our culture it is perceived as a potential burden. When we encounter a person who is mourning, we often shy away, we feel awkward and unsure of ourselves in the presence of such an overwhelming emotional experience. Again, Paul is reminding us that, as believers, we are called to step in and help one another bear those burdens. We are called to come alongside and weep with those who are weeping. And, more often than not, this is the only possible response, to simply sit and weep with someone. It is uncomfortable and messy. And it is a vital part of life in the Body of Christ.

The Body

As Christians, we are members of the Body of Christ. Because of that, we are to love one another, care for one another, support one another. We are to rejoice together and mourn together. The process of both of these actions can be hard and messy and sometimes quite distressing. But the reality is that not only is this helpful, but it is also what Christ did. When Lazarus died, Jesus wept. He mourned with those who were mourning. If this is the example of our Savior and the teaching of an apostle, then it is what we are to be doing. 
In closing, I had the distinct pleasure of being able to rejoice with a friend this week over a new job opportunity. I also had the distinct challenge of mourning with a person struggling with a history of trauma. In both cases, I heard Paul’s voice echoing in my mind to rejoice and to mourn. As we proceed through this year, we will inevitably encounter both of these experiences. Let’s keep Paul’s words in mind and let’s rejoice with those who are rejoicing and let’s mourn with those who are mourning.

Josh Cervone