Wednesday, January 11, 2012

when others hurt

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  ~Romans 12:15

Rejoice with those who rejoice?  No problem!  Every one loves a celebration.  :)  Why is it we have such a hard time weeping with those who weep?  I’ve seen this time and again, and it has hit home once more this week.

For whatever reason, there has been lots of weeping around me in the last few weeks.   Friends with cancer.   Sweet young moms of little ones in my class losing babies.  Babies born with Down Syndrome.  Babies due this spring with complex issues.  Preemies with complications.  Complicated pregnancies.  Surgeries with unexpectedly difficult recoveries.  Here, there have been many tears.


I was struck this week as I talked on the phone with one friend.  She and her husband received some difficult news late last week.  As we talked (and cried!) together on the phone, she said something that absolutely broke my heart.  She said that an email had been sent to a group of friends, sharing the news, and that she’d only heard back from 2 people.  Only 2 people cared enough to take a minute and let her know they cared!  That hurt her nearly as much as the devastating news. 

When did we allow our hearts to become hardened to the hurt around us?  Why can’t we be the kind of friends that are needed?  Why can’t we take 60 seconds to send a note that says “I’m SO sorry!  Please know that I care.”?  Why can’t we pick up the phone and ask what we can do to help?   Sure, sometimes we don’t know what to say.  Yes, there’s that fear that we’ll say the wrong thing.  But I’ve learned for sure this winter that if we choose to say nothing, we are DEFINITELY saying the wrong thing!  That kind of rejection, that kind of hurt—it is HARD.  It lasts.  I certainly don’t know what to say all the time.  I put my foot in my mouth on a regular basis.  You know what?  When you are willing to confess that you simply don’t know what to say, that you care about them and what’s going on—you can’t go wrong.  I told my sweet friend yesterday that I knew I would say the wrong things before her situation was resolved.  I asked her to be patient with me, to let me know if I hurt her, and to know that while I will likely say things that hurt, I would never do it on purpose.  Only with her help can I learn, so I don’t make the same mistake in the future.

There’s very little I can do to ‘help’ my friend who is hurting.  But I can call or email to let her know I’m thinking of her.  I can fix a meal.  I can be available if or when she needs someone to listen.  I can go and just sit beside her so she doesn’t have to be alone.  I can invite her children over for a time, or I can ask her to join me for a cup of coffee.  It doesn’t have to be big or difficult.  It just has to be honest and sincere.  From the heart. 

After all, if we’re going to rejoice with those who rejoice, we’d better be willing to weep with those who weep.  Jesus did.  How can we do any less?


  1. It doesn't come easy. And it takes a lot out of you to grieve with someone. And it's hard, I think, to be around someone who is going through your worst fears. And there is a lot I could say on this subject (obviously)...but I think the one principle that I have learned is simply weep with those who weep. I don't and I CAN'T have the answers. Only Christ does. And that stinks. A lot.
    But you are right....the effort we make is always worth it. Even when it hurts. I don't regret a second of the time and tears I have given to friends that are war widows...

  2. I definitely could have articulated my previous comment (little sleep from a sick kiddo)...rereading it, my point is that we are not called to have the answers. The verse reads "weep with those who weep", not "use the perfect phrase to comfort others"...and I think it is easy for it to become too late when we wait for the right phrase. And we so want to have the right phrase. We want to be able to comfort.