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Sunday, March 10, 2019

A Community of Faith


I was reading the other day, and ran across some comments that got me to thinking.  I especially was reminded of this verse from Romans:

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”-Romans 12:15

First, notice that there are three different groups of people described here.  There are people who have something special going on in life and are rejoicing because of it.  There are people who are going through some kind of painful experience, and are weeping because of it.  And there are those Paul is addressing, who are the individuals present with the other two groups.  The basic notion, of course, is that we need to be compassionate people and able to share in the life experiences of others in a meaningful way, regardless of what that other individual’s experiences have been.

What particularly got me to thinking was the “weep with those who weep” idea, because the article I was reading was discussing the healing effect of sharing one’s pain and tears with another.  That, of course, is in stark contrast to how more often than not, people avoid sharing their sorrows and trials because they “don’t want to be a burden to others.”  

And yet, if an individual doesn’t share their weeping with you, then how are you going to be able to weep with them?  

And if it is indeed true, that sharing one’s pain helps bring healing, then what purpose is there in try to “keep one’s chin up” and carry on as if nothing has happened?  

I have known a number of people who have been divorced, who chose to keep their struggles to themselves, not admitting their financial and emotional stress.  The same is sometimes true of people who have obtained a dismal medical diagnosis, or who have lost a job, or is having trouble with rebellious children.  We may think we are being noble by trying to carry the burden ourselves, but somehow, in the great design of things, I am not so sure that is what is intended.  

From the very beginning of scripture God makes clear that it isn’t good to be alone, and not only is the creation of marriage a response, but throughout scripture people are part of a community of faith, not out there on their own.

Is there a painful experience in your life?  Are there tears that you seek to hold back or deny? Are you neglecting the opportunities for support and healing that are around you if you will but open yourself up to the possibility?  

On the flip side, are there people you know who are in the midst of crisis, trauma or grief?  Maybe they are nearby and you don’t even know what they are experiencing. Are you the kind of person who creates an atmosphere in which a struggling person could feel free to share their pain?  Or are you a person whose words and actions suppress that opportunity and push them away?

If we could somehow be more effective in breaking down these invisible walls, I think we would find that our churches and our friendships would take on a deeper meaning.  Instead of entering a sanctuary filled with what appear to be happy, together and positive people who have no problems in their lives, we will discover that the church is made up of people just like us:  people who struggle, question, make mistakes and yes, sometimes need to just shed some tears.  

Whichever side of the equation you happen to be on, how about seeking fresh ways to bring healing into your world?

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