Day 8

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).

Post Comments (164)

164 thoughts on "Weeping and Rejoicing with Others"

  1. Emily Wolf says:

    I struggled with such deep jealousy and anger for the majority of my young adult life (the depth of it being from high school through late twenties). I knew I was jealous and angry and I knew why: my life was not what I wanted it to be and I when I looked at others who had what I wanted (material, spiritual, and emotional), I believed that “of course they are happy—they have _________. It would be easy for me to be happy if I had that too.” Consequently, I could not rejoice in their joy (I was painfully jealous of their happiness and life) or share in their pain (I was also painfully jealous of the people they had to weep with them). Every moment I was comparing it to my own life or angrily asking why I was who I was, lacking in so much. Slowly, I became exhausted of living that way. I wanted to believe that God could show me something better, and that he was bigger than what I could see. I realized that Satan had me distracted with myself, and as long as I was self-focused, I was not God-focused. I asked myself, “What kind of crazy amazing work could God do if I just let go?” It was then I realized that letting go of jealousy and anger was scary to me. If I let those things go, then I would relinquish some kind of strange control I believed myself to have. If I let go of jealousy and anger, then some how it meant I was okay with my life, even though I felt so passionately angry about my life. Why do we believe that? Jealousy and anger control us—they are not forms of control for us. I slowly let go, afraid of what I would have left. I slowly prayed that something beautiful would happen if I prayed for God to replace my jealous and angry thoughts with one small, yet miraculous thing—love for God. That’s it. I prayed that God with occupy my thoughts with just Him, and that he would open my eyes to see this world differently, with me not at the center. Over the next few years, he came through day by day. And it is such a relief. He has changed my heart. The people I was jealous for still have the lives and things I wanted, but He has changed my heart toward them (or in some cases just made me simply indifferent towards them—what a miracle). He has given me a confidence that I could never have produced myself. He has shown me things to love about myself that I was too distracted to see before. He has given me a servants heart to serve those who I would have been jealous of. He has made me see life so much differently, and that is through a heart that runs on hope and eyes that are protected by His spirit. I am continually amazed that God changes hearts. I hope this is encouraging to others, as His love and what it is capable of in our own growth always amazes me.

  2. Erin Kennedy says:

    I feel this story so deeply—it has been my story for the last year as every month I get my period again, and nearly every day someone shares a pregnancy announcement or cute photos of their kids. Learning to rejoice with others is something I’m only starting to learn to do. The bitterness runs deep.

  3. Zoe says:

    Nicole, thank you for sharing your hurts and fears with us. It can be hard to open up to deep relationships, especially if your early experiences taught you that only leads to pain and loss. I am praying for you this morning- asking God to heal your heart, provide you with trustworthy community, and give you the courage to be vulnerable and love your community well. God has worked so powerfully in my life through relationships, and I have seen Him provide community in amazing ways when I needed it most, so I am praying and believing that He will do the same for you. Love you!

  4. Rachel Anne says:

    This devotional was so timely for me. This very month, my husband and I hit the 18 month mark in our infertility journey. With every pregnancy announcement of a family member or friend, I find myself feeling broken as I ache to have what they do. I feel like this devotional spoke right to my heart. I want to fully rejoice with my loved ones as they celebrate. I am starting to realize that my pain can be fully felt at the same time that I share in their joy. Praying that I can hold this tension for however long this painful journey lasts and that I can dance and feel genuine joy in the midst of it.

  5. Avalon Negrette says:

    I’ve recently been feeling pretty similar… I got married last year which was awesome, but one of the most stressful times in my life. Definitely didn’t go how I hoped it would have gone in my head. Now my friends are getting married and having babies which is so exciting, but there is this jealousy thing that I just cant seem to shake. I can’t help but want what I don’t have. There’s a part of me that wants to redo my wedding because there was so much drama and not enough happiness. There’s a part of me that really wants to be a mother, but can’t right now because my husband wants to wait and we’re a team so that means I’m waiting too. It really can be hard to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. I find myself at a loss for words more often than not.

    1. Samantha Miller says:

      My husband and I are dealing with similar issues. We had a beautiful wedding over a year ago, but there was a lot of drama leading up to it. It’s hard not to remain bitter about the people that ruined our excitement. And now I’m struggling with wanting to start a family while he wants to wait a little longer. It’s hard, sister, but we’re in this together. Jesus knows our suffering and he near to us.

    2. Zoe Gonzales says:

      ♥️

  6. Nicole says:

    Sisters, I suffer with a selfish POV about relationships. I learned early on in childhood that relationships outside off family don’t really last. I know that’s not always true and it’s a selfish way too look at it – “what’s in this for me?” So I feel lonely. I feel guilty because I feel I don’t have close enough relationships to “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.” To “come alongside and inspire others.” I have a fear of being open and vulnerable. So I guess I’m asking for prayers. I thank you all for being vulnerable with posting your hurts this morning. It inspired me to post mine. Thank you ❤️

  7. Kelly Chataine says:

    There is a part of me that would like to feel sorry for myself but I will not give in. My husband fell Saturday and I found myself following an ambulance again. We found ourselves back in a familiar situation. Again, I am fighting my emotions because I never wanted to be back at a hospital.

    So here I am trying to genuinely praise God for the situation we find ourselves in, again. It has been this way since December 2014.

    Thank you, God, that the injury was not to his head! Thank you that we are able to remain in our own familiar town. Thank you that we have a whole host of new nurses, interns, doctors, and hospital staff in which to witness.

    You know what is best and I thank you for watching over us!

  8. Cheryl Burba says:

    Thank you for your transparency. I understand your struggle. That was a tough season for me as well. Hold fast. I am praying for you.

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