Throughout the journey of life, there are moments of unspeakable joy and crushing heartache and pain. Most likely, as you read these words, you may have recently experienced both joy and pain, celebration and sorrow. Often these emotions exist within us at the same time, where moments of joy are tempered with sorrow, and seasons of pain can be relieved by the promise of hope and peace.
So often, our experience of joy and sorrow is entirely out of our control. Joy comes to us as a free gift, or sorrow becomes an uninvited companion on our journey. In a sense, there is a passive reality to emotions, we often receive them whether we want to or not.
In the Apostle Paul’s words to the early Christians in Rome, we find another dimension to emotion: a radical invitation into an active and intentional life of joy and sorrow.
What if joy isn’t simply an emotion that comes your way but is instead something you intentionally look for and seek out? To do this, it means you must broaden your capacity to love and celebrate, looking not simply for your own joy but for the joy of others as well. A sign of the Spirit’s work in your life is the ability to celebrate with others even when you receive no direct benefit in return. Their joy truly becomes your joy, free from all envy, jealousy, or comparison.
Likewise, we must ask for the grace to take the sorrow and pain of others into our hearts and let it become our own. This is an active and intentional choice, for it is possible to hold the pain and brokenness of others at arms length, remaining emotionally detached and unaffected. It is for good reason that Paul’s words to us are a command, not a suggestion. We must choose to weep with those who weep, actively looking for those who are in sorrow and letting their pain become our pain.
This way of life goes against our natural desires and inclinations. It requires that we open ourselves up to the joy and sorrow of others. Our personal joy and pain cannot be our only concern.
Our Prayer: May God give us the grace to live this radical life of empathy and compassion for the sake of others and as a sign of his coming Kingdom In Jesus name Amen.