Some are celebrated…
Baby’s first Christmas
First Christmas in a new home
First Christmas sober after years of addiction
Others are endured
First Christmas in prison
First Christmas without a job
First Christmas far from loved ones
And many are mourned
First Christmas without…
As Christians, we’re called to rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn.
I often wonder what that’s supposed to look like. I mean, at any moment, every moment, people are joyously celebrating various things they have accomplished or received, while others’ worlds are caving in. Victories, loss, and tragedy occur every day. The best and the worst of humanity are constantly expressed.
We all know someone who received something they’ve longed for, dreamed of, or didn’t know they wanted until it was theirs this year. We all know someone who lost a loved one this year. We all know someone who is depressed.
Maybe you’re one of those people feeling blessed, bereaved, lost.
How do I rejoice, or mourn, with you?
It’s easy to question God, to doubt Him in our Why. We can’t see the bigger picture. We can’t see how the drama unfolding around us is part of a story as long as time. If God allows it, there is grace to be found in it.
Accept my identity in Christ.
God made me unique. With a unique purpose. I don’t have to be like you or have what you have. When you are broken, I don’t have to have all the answers to stand with you, or sit with you, in your pain; I can’t fix it, but knowing the One who can is enough.
Comparison steals joy. When I think what you have is better than what God has given me, I stop feeling blessed. I can’t fully rejoice with you if I’m jealous of you. When you’re broken, I can’t just love you, but have to step back to reframe my view of you.
Joy can bubble forth in smiling words. Pain and confusion often wish to speak, too; not to receive well-intentioned but incomplete answers, but simply to be heard. Whether you are excited to share good news or weighed down by heavy words that need a place to go, my heart needs to be soft enough to receive them.
On my own, I am incomplete and needy; I want what others have that I feel I lack. On my own, others’ pain terrifies me. I run from dealing with things and people I can’t fix. I can’t rejoice with you, or mourn with you, if I turn away.
There are always people celebrating, always people mourning. I’d go crazy if I had to think of each of them, even the ones I know well, all the time. I’m finite. God is not. I need to be willing to be be interrupted.
Whenever God brings someone to mind, or lays them on our heart, we should pray for them. Even if all we have time for is a quick lifting of their name, we should pray for whatever God has for them at the moment to be fruitful.
Happiness loves to see itself reflected in another’s eyes. Pain doesn’t always want to speak; sometimes it needs to just not feel alone.
When I trust God’s sovereignty, love, and grace; when I accept who I am in Him; when I live fully the life and gifts God has given me and appreciate the life and gifts He has given you; when I listen to the exultant or broken cry of your heart… I have the confidence, joy, and peace to be truly present with you. God’s grace can fill me and flow through me to you.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Romans 12:15, NIV
December 2016 update: Do you have a devotional reading plan for 2017? Check out Listen When He Speaks, a Scripture Reading and Writing Plan.