Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
It had been a difficult morning for my wife. The dreadful, disabling effects of her multiple sclerosis were too real to deny. She felt the bruising weight of it all. We lived with good, caring neighbors in our assigned location in northern Nigeria. They showed that they cared.
That morning two of the neighbor women kindly checked in on Thelma. The first neighbor who came saw that it was a difficult day for her. Thelma couldn’t conceal her struggle. As they talked, tears welled up; they erupted into open crying. Quickly and with obvious discomfort, the well-meaning neighbor responded to her tears with the words, “Don’t cry, Thelma; don’t cry.” Thelma forced herself to stifle her sobs.
Shortly after that neighbor left, a second kind neighbor came. She also observed that it was a difficult morning for Thelma. The tears may have been choked back, but they were still there, and they rose again. The neighbor saw them, and, wrapping her arm around my wife’s shoulder, she said, “Cry, Thelma; just cry.”
As Thelma described the experience to me, I knew what she found helpful. It was a good lesson for me.
Just as Paul wrote in Romans 12, we can rejoice with those who rejoice, but we can also weep with those who weep. That’s real caring as we try to be a neighbor—the kind God wants and enables us to be.
God, our Father, thank you for being the Father of compassion. Mold and shape us today into your compassionate likeness. Amen.