The Word: Rejoice and weep

Published 6:15 pm Friday, March 22, 2024

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Last weekend, we celebrated my son’s birthday. For nine years, Jonathan has graced our lives with his amazing mix of creativity, kindness, humor, and exuberance that leaves our hearts full and our energy tanks empty! He had just the sort of birthday he always wanted, with friends from school coming to our house for cake, ice cream, and lots of laughter and happy shouts.

Then, on Sunday, we went to church and gathered with our family of faith. One of the things we do each week, as part of our worship service at Farmville Baptist, is share celebrations and concerns. There were lots of celebrations. But then, during the concerns part of our prayer time, one of our folks mentioned that it was an anniversary for their family – the anniversary of the loss of someone significant.

In that moment, on that weekend with both celebration and grief, I was reminded of the words of the apostle Paul. In the letter to the church in Rome, Paul speaks of how to live faithfully as God’s people and gives instructions on how to live together well as a community. In Romans 12:15, Paul gives a guideline that I saw play out in front of my eyes last weekend: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

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Most of us, at some point in life, will have something to celebrate. In those good times, we rarely want to celebrate alone. We want someone else to recognize with us the good fortune that has come our way. We want to tell the story of some great highlight of life to a friendly face with a ready smile and encouraging laughter. We feel that our achievement, or our good news, or our happiness is made fuller and worthier of our own ecstasy if someone else is cheering along with us. A joy that is reinforced by the rejoicing of someone else is made richer and sweeter. Rejoicing with those who rejoice is a blessing to them.

In a similar manner, weeping with those who weep is a blessing, too. Many of us, of course, want some measure of privacy when pain and loss strike, but even the most insular among us need a shoulder to cry on. When we can be an empathetic friend, a good listener and a fellow mourner in the face of grief, we help lighten the load for our burdened friend, or at least remind them that they are not alone. What greater care could we show to one another than to sit with others in their pain and weep with those who weep?

In our world, we sometimes lose sight of the value of rejoicing with those who rejoice, and weeping with those who weep. May we remember that those who do so are helping their friends and neighbors in the most vital moments of life – and sharing the true blessings of God along the way.

Rev. Dr. J. Adam Tyler is the Senior Pastor for Farmville Baptist Church and he can be reached by email at