When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow.  Romans 12:15

     Nancy Guthrie (The One Year Book of Hope), whose child died at six months of age, shares an interesting aspect of grief. She writes that it’s easy to “weep with those who weep” like the verse above says. We love it when people come along and are able to empathize with us in our pain. We also believe we are better comforters because of it.

     But when we are hurting, she writes, we feel exempt from the “rejoice with those who rejoice” part. She writes, “Those of us who are sad find it very difficult to be happy with others when they are happy, to enter into the joys of their lives. It is painful and costly to celebrate with others when we are weighed down by our own losses, sorrows, and failures—especially if their gain is exactly what we’ve lost. The ugly truth is, while we don’t think their happiness should keep them from sharing our sorrow, we see our sadness as an adequate excuse for refusing to enter into their joy.”

     I never thought about it, but isn’t it so true? And so hard? Sometimes our pain feels so deep that we feel it excuses us from engaging with others—whether they feel joy or sorrow. The problem is that we can get stuck in that place—mired in our own pain and not caring about others the way we used to. When we allow that to happen, it’s easy to keep our sorrow at the forefront of our mind causing everyone to feel that they have to tiptoe around our feelings and sensitivities. It might be a relief to choose to focus on someone else and break free from the cycle of grief for a while. Maybe reaching out to others in the midst of your pain is the secret to lightening your unbearable load.

     Guthrie and her husband decided to help their new neighbor, a widow, with the mess in her yard by pulling weeds and getting rid of some of the trash that had accumulated when the house was vacant. She says that it was a realization that she was thinking about the other woman—how hard it must be to be a widow and try to make this move on her own. She realized that her focus moved from her own pain to her neighbor’s.

     “It was a relief. It was a distraction. It was an outlet. It was a step toward healing.”  Guthrie goes on to say, “You can keep sitting around waiting to feel better, or you can get up, look around, and seek out someone to serve. Prove me wrong on this. I dare you.”

*Is there someone you could serve, even in your suffering?

Father, you know that I am overwhelmed with pain. I find it hard to believe that I could find strength in serving someone else. But I want to obey You and step out in faith, believing that You will meet me there…also believing that even in pain, I can reach out to someone else and bring hope and encouragement. I love You, Lord.

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