I love that scripture gives us room to weep, to lament – room to acknowledge loss and heartache. Scripture gives us permission to be real.
The psalmist cries out, “How long, O Lord?” Jesus, overcome with emotion weeps at the death of his friend, Lazarus. Nehemiah mourns, fasts, and prays after hearing the news of Jerusalem’s broken state.
Lament is a frequent theme throughout the bible. But how do we help others in the midst of suffering?
I’ve spent the last few days meditating on Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who are rejoicing and weep with those who are weeping.”
Romans 12:15 is an invitation – an invitation to enter into the joys and the sorrows of others. Doing so is an act of love. I think it’s fascinating that Paul never asks us to dismiss the pain of others’ suffering. Instead, he has us enter into it.
The “love section” begins in Romans 12:9 where Paul states, “Love must be sincere.” Paul then spends the next several verses telling us what sincere Christian love actually looks like. It’s more than mere sentiment. It’s action. It’s better than just words. Love celebrates with those celebrating. Love joins in the sorrows of others. Love weeps with those who are weeping – perhaps remaining silent.
I’ve made the mistake of overlooking raw emotion in the hopes of “fixing” someone.
If we’re not careful we dismiss someone’s pain by reciting cliché lines like, “Well, God has a plan.” Or, “God is working it out for your good,” quoting Romans 8:28. We push past the emotion in hopes of bringing a solution. While those statements are true, and maybe our motives are even pure, their timing is off-putting and can come across as insensitive.
Love doesn’t necessarily mean attempting to fix or even counsel someone in his or her suffering. Love mourns with those who are mourning.
Jesus is our greatest example of this.
Jesus stepped into our sorrows. Isaiah describes the Messiah as a man of suffering and familiar with pain (Isaiah 53:3). Jesus was well acquainted with grief. And because He identifies with our suffering, we are to identify with the suffering of others. We lament, weep and groan and as we do so, we carry that person’s burden – perhaps if only for a few moments (Galatians 6:2). We come along side others and say, “You no longer have to carry this alone.” This demonstrates our love for them.
Jesus and Paul give us permission to not only lament but to be concerned with those who are hurting in this world. Jesus shows us that we are not to sit afar nor dismiss the hurts of others. Instead, we enter into their pain, demonstrating the love of God and pointing them to the life of our sacrificial King!