“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15 NKJV
From my vantage point on the east coast (NJ), the unity of the church appears to be waning. People have become much too self-centered & self-absorbed. It has infected the church on the whole as well. We may support one another in the wake of a crisis, but once the dust settles we go back into our self-made caves and place our focus back on our own problems.
There is a marked difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy, simply put, means you pity or feel sorry for someone. Empathy, on the other hand, means you have the ability to identify or understand another’s situation or feelings. Folks don’t want our pity; they want someone who understands what they’re going through. The empathizer has either gone through the same thing or can imagine what it would be like to go through such a difficulty. A church can rally around a fellow believer with a spirit of empathy and can truly lift the suffering member out of their malaise and place them on a plateau of comfort and peace.
Rejoicing with those who rejoice is easy. We all like to share is someone’s happiness. It is when people weep and have great difficulties that we become uncomfortable. Have we lost the ability to empathize? We must pray for the Lord to enable us to get it back, because it promotes unity within the church and brings about healing to the individual that is hurting.
As a side note, there are few things as liberating as weeping. It has a cleansing effect that comforts us when we are done. A good hard cry frees us up to begin living again. Until Christ’s Return, walk with the King and be a blessing!
Resource: The Reformation Study Bible; The Asbury Bible Commentary & The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.