Weeping and Rejoicing with Others

from the Mourning and Dancing reading plan

Psalm 22:24, John 11:28-44, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Matthew 11:28, Romans 12:12-15, Hebrews 10:24-25, 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

BY Claire Gibson

I stood with the other guests, sandals planted in the grass, finger pressed to the top of a can of Silly String, waiting in anticipation to see what emerged from the tip of the spout. Blue or pink? Blue or pink?

Time and time again for the previous eighteen months, my husband and I had experienced a similar suspense in the privacy of our own home, waiting for the results. One line or two? One line or two? But there were no shouts of joy or photos taken. No blue Silly String raining down on our heads. Just the sound of plastic hitting the bottom of a trash can as another month closed on our dreams.

As our friends learned they would soon welcome a baby boy, I grabbed my husband’s hand and dragged him through their master bedroom, bathroom, and into the closet—not totally weird, since this particular gender reveal also doubled as a housewarming party. The place still smelled like paint. In my friends’ walk-in closet, shoes lined shelves on the left and right, all in perfect rows. Without warning, I began to sob, crumbling into my husband’s shoulder, laughing and crying at the same time as I realized I wanted everything they have.

I’m not sure I know how to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. All too often, I do it all backwards, because this life is really, really hard, and I’m just barely keeping it together. I find I’m detached when others weep, never quite sure what to say or how to make it better. And I’m sad to say I’m jealous when others rejoice, disappointed with my own circumstances.

I’m even worse with my own pain, minimizing it because I don’t want to burden other people. Downplaying my successes because I don’t want to seem vain or selfish. And God’s call to walk alongside others in their deepest sorrow and joy seems almost impossible (Romans 12:12–15). So for better or for worse, I fake it the best I can, hoping that someday my feelings will catch up to my actions.

But I think God wants so much more than for me to ignore my emotions. And He is most definitely not asking me to “fake it ‘til I make it.” He’s calling me to real emotion—to the odd, uncomfortable reality of holding grief and joy at the same time, without minimizing either experience, naming the good, the bad, and the ugly. This means allowing myself to feel the depth of my pain, so that, when the time comes, I will know what it means to grieve with my friends.

Being honest and vulnerable with our emotions isn’t easy. But ultimately, if we are real with Him—and with each other—every grief and every joy can transform into a glimpse of redemption. If I let it happen, every affliction can give me a greater capacity to care for and understand someone else’s pain. Every joy I allow myself to fully experience can give me a greater capacity to dance at someone else’s wedding.

In 2017, we brought home our son through adoption; we are writing a new story from many broken pieces. And yet, our journey with infertility is not over. Our bodies still don’t do what others can. But I’m learning that Christ is the ultimate empathizer. No one weeps with us and rejoices with us like He does. “For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so our comfort overflows through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:5).

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168 thoughts on "Weeping and Rejoicing with Others"

  1. Natalie H says:

    Deeply moving story, but I’m left with the question, “What does it look like to be at a gender reveal party and feel grief and excitement at once?” “What is a gracious way to be hurting so deeply in the face of someone else’s joy without ruining the joy?” Obviously, there’s some spirit work to be done here: praying for the ability to truly feel others’ joy in the midst of my sorrow and praying that my jealousy be overridden, but that can be a long journey for each individual grief. What about before you get there?

  2. Crystal Laiben says:

    Rejoicing with those who rejoice has always been hard for me, especially when it comes to mother-daughter relationships. Most of my friends have amazing Moms and as adults their moms are their BFFs. It’s hard not to be jealous when my own mother abused me, abandoned me, and then died suddenly just over a month ago.

  3. Ashley Hoffman says:

    One of the most challenging parts of going to counseling was unboxing my childhood trauma and allowing myself to feel my emotions and turn over those hurtful memories to God. Now, as I grieve the loss of a friend, I am finding it easier to feel these emotions and to run to my loving Father for comfort.

  4. Tayleur Farrier says:

    Wow. Thank you for sharing your insightful truth. It has rocked my world this morning and I am opening my heart and mind to the locked emotions and hope.

  5. Andrea Starr says:

    I never thought of it this way. Ever. This hot me so hard. I’m so detached from others’ feelings because it’s so messy to get involved so often. It’s uncomfortable and I never know what the right thing to say is. I tend to think everyone should just “be stronger” and “push through” which is a really selfish way to expect people to hurt. But that stems from my own inability to let myself hurt the way I probably need to. I don’t want to seem weak or hung up on whatever is affecting me, so I just keep it to myself. But even that is wrong, because I’m not even relaying on Jesus to help me through those times. Just myself. And how can I stand next to someone in a time of pain (or joy) and understand that feeling while encouraging them to place their trust in the Lord, when I myself am not doing that?

    1. Tara Greeley says:

      Such a thoughtful response. ♥️

  6. Reina Sikabwe says:

    I’ve been feeling this, like I cant have emotions because I’m deemed weak… 5mins prior to this I was taking it to make it after my mom enraged me with the whole when will you and your bf get married talk. And ran to my room fell on my face and cried how unfair it is for her to ignore all the strides I made in my schooling, and all the mountains my boyfriend and I reoationsjip have faced and overcome, then minimize it to, why arent you there yet. But Jesus is teaching me it’s ok to be sad and weep in his arms cuz he will teach me how to forgive and love from a distance. It’s the hardest thingie ever been learning in my whole life.

  7. Tamara Doyle says:

    I’m praising God for His grace in that I’ve been much more readily able to genuinely rejoice in the successes/celebrations of others rather than feel the pang of jealousy at every wedding or pregnancy announcement. And experiencing the grief of singleness and loss has enabled me to weep with others who go through the same. It’s a comfort to be able to offer the comfort I’ve received from Christ and know my suffering has not been in vain.

  8. Kate Morse says:

    My husband and I have also been dealing with infertility, something I never thought would affect me. It’s been almost two years of trying to conceive. I have watched friends and fellow church members go through years and years of hurt because of infertility. I always said to myself, “I’m so glad I won’t have that problem.” Although I’m not sure why I thought it wouldn’t affect me! We have an appointment with a fertility specialist this week, so reading this devotional today was perfect timing. I am going to try to rejoice with others more rather than feeling sorry for myself!

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