My hands are just now beginning to thaw. I still shiver when I think about it. For those of you who lost power or water (or both), last week’s weather was definitely a struggle. Few of us will ever forget Wintermageddon 2021.
It felt like hell had literally frozen over. Here on Texas’ Gulf Coast, we are used to facing the fury of nature with determination and resolve, but last week’s cold honestly brought us to our knees.
As my hands froze, however, one thing warmed my heart. On social media and in person, those who had electricity and water gave blanket invitations to those in the community who did not.
“If you need a warm shower, water or a place to sleep, just let me know,” numerous people posted on Facebook.
They were open invitations to anyone who needed help. The invitations warmed my heart but did not surprise me. When people in our part of the world suffer tragedy or are in need, the community generally rallies around them. When our neighbors are hurting, we offer to help.
That’s what Texans do. That’s what Christians do.
In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul encourages us, “I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1). In other words, when we see God’s amazing mercy which forgives us and gives us so many good things we don’t deserve, we respond by giving of ourselves to him and others.
But then later in that same chapter, Paul gives this specific application: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). Years ago, a seminary professor read that verse to my class and posed the question: “Which of those is easier to do — to rejoice with those who rejoice or to mourn with those who mourn?”
The initial response was, “Rejoice with those who rejoice.” But is that true? As Christians, we actually do pretty well at mourning with those who mourn. When tragedy strikes, when somebody dies, when people around us are hurting, we often step up and step in to help. We offer condolences and prayers. We bring them food and open up our homes to them.
We mourn with those who mourn.
What is actually harder for us to do is to rejoice with those who rejoice. Your neighbor wins the lottery. Your sister marries a millionaire who looks like Brad Pitt. Your fellow teacher is named teacher of the year instead of you. We often struggle to be happy for others when good things happen to them and not us.
We may smile and tell them we are happy for them, but deep down, we are seething. We are jealous. Why them and not me?
The secret to being able to truly rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn is to recognize God’s great mercy in our lives. Just look at all you have — your home, your car, your TV, your phone, your family and your friends. Look at all that God has given and forgiven you. Look up and remember the heaven that is waiting for you because of Jesus.
When we recognize all the good things God has given and done for us, we can be happy for others when God gives them good things. Then we can truly rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.
That’s what Christians do.