My sister likes throwing parties for the Academy Awards so I end up watching them. It’s always interesting to see when they have a camera on all of the nominated actors for a category that only one person wins. Some celebs are actually good actors and look fine with losing. Others are not so good and you can tell that they are upset that they just lost. It’s hard to lose at something you really did want to win. Celebrity or not, we all have a hard time with losing. I know I do.
To me, one of the hardest teachings in the Bible is from Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” It’s not even the second part of the verse that gives me the most trouble, it’s the rejoice part. It rolls off of the tongue easily, but putting it into practice with your life is super hard.
Maybe it’s just me, but it’s hard to rejoice with someone who just beat you out in what you were competing for. And it’s not just even in competitions; it’s in all areas life. When someone gets promoted over you or gets the job you wanted. When someone gets hired and you’re unemployed. And let’s just say it—when someone gets married and you’re single.
The list goes on. I’ll be honest; it’s been hard for me in the past, especially as a Christian, to rejoice with someone who got hired while I couldn’t get a job to save my life. I’ve thought things like, “Oh good for you, you don’t even go to church and haven’t ever prayed in your life, but you just got a job you didn’t even have to apply for. That’s awesome.” And it made me angry with God.
Maybe you can relate in some way. And I get it. Look, I’ve gone stag to more weddings than I can even count. It’s tough to look at everyone else’s happiness when it ain’t happening for you. Paul didn’t write it out because it was easy, he wrote it because it’s what we need to do.
To mourn with someone is sometimes difficult, but it’s usually easier to do than to rejoice. Most people suck at faking their happiness, so when you’re not truly rejoicing it shows. And when it shows, your selfishness can kill what should be a good moment for someone else. And that’s pretty rude because life doesn’t always give us a lot of happy moments. People don’t need you bumming them out.
To rejoice with someone takes discipline, and it takes you getting yourself in check. When I struggle with rejoicing, I try to remind myself of how I’d want other people to respond to me when I have a reason to rejoice. Have you ever had a rejoicing moment and shared it with someone who doesn’t seem to care? I’ve had that happen lots of times, and the moments are ruined. It makes me not want to share my future rejoicing moments with those people. It’s like coming home with all A’s on your report card and showing your mom, and then having her light it on fire.
When you can’t rejoice with someone, your jealousy and insecurities get put on display, and quite obviously. So unless you want to be the Eeyore in your group of friends, you’d better get to work on rejoicing with those who rejoice. I believe that it takes prayer, and then disciplining yourself. Eventually you’ll be able to truly rejoice with those who rejoice. Instead of weeping with those who rejoice, which is not as much fun.