Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15 ESV).
Right in the middle of Romans 12, under the heading “Marks of the true Christian,” is this beautiful little verse. In moments of tragedy when my mind spins around searching for the right thing to say, God has often brought the second half of this verse to mind. It has reminded me that when we are face-to-face with others’ grief, responding with presence and empathy is often better than trying to speak out wisdom and solutions. Weep with those who weep.
But I had never spent much mental energy on the first half. Until 2020 hit.
In the midst of the global pandemic last year, I found myself struggling in a few areas of life. (Haven’t we all?) Out of the pit of struggle crawled a nasty little creature called Comparison. He snuck around and whispered lies that puffed up my pride and dug ditches of resentment between myself and others.
You know it’s Comparison talking when the tone is bitterly judgemental and completely devoid of humility. Your friend gets a promotion and your first, slimy thought is, “They don’t even deserve it. They aren’t as dedicated to their work as I am.” A childhood acquaintance builds their dream house, and as you scroll through their photos you wonder why they deserve good things when you’re left circling your dreams from a thousand feet up in a continual holding pattern with no end in sight. Judgement and scarcity keep you up at night. And slowly, comparison begans stealing away your joy.
If comparison is the thief of joy, how do I get out of the comparison loop and steal back my joy from the jaws of that ugly creature?
In the midst of my struggle, God kindly whispered to my soul, “Rejoice with those who rejoice.”
Comparison looks at other people’s joys and places ME at the dead center of a story that’s not even remotely mine. Love, on the other hand, rejoices wholeheartedly with the lavish gifts our good God gives to others, knowing that this life is not a zero sum game.
So lately, I’ve been on a journey to remove myself from the narrative. No comparing my story, my life, my achievements to those of others.
My mother-in-law is famous for her ability to do this well. She loves babies and pregnancy, and at a family gathering a few years ago one of our cousins sneakily told me that she was expecting, but asked me not to say anything because SHE wanted to tell my mother-in-law. Every time someone announces their pregnancy in my mother-in-law’s presence, it’s the same: the shock, the shriek, the exclamations, sometimes there’s a tipped chair as she jumps to her feet for a bear hug. There are always tears. It’s one of the best parts of expecting a baby. Sure you’re puking your guts out and sleeping 12 hours a day, but you have this delicious pregnancy reveal to look forward to.
Choosing to rejoice with other women and their pregnancies can’t always have been an easy choice, however. My mother-in-law has 4 children on earth and 5 more babies born straight into heaven, and in between those decades of pregnancies were months and years of hoping, waiting, and grieving.
But somewhere in there she made a decision. She decided that life is beautiful and sacred and a wonderful blessing that is worth rejoicing over, even if the blessing belongs to someone else. And so the woman who struggled with her own fertility became the biggest celebrator of others.
Rejoice with those who rejoice.
It’s now 2021, and after a year of soaking in these truths, I discovered something amazing. When I take myself out of the narrative and choose to rejoice with the good things God is blessing others with, I am inspired, hopeful, and spurred on to big, creative prayers for my own life. The blessings in other people’s lives no longer make me feel small and wanting. Instead, I am encouraged by the creative abundance of our Father, and know he is excited to provide generously to ALL who follow after him.
It’s a daily choice we all have. And today I choose to wholeheartedly rejoice with those who rejoice, because joy is the thief of comparison.
Danielle Miller is mom to three girls and has been married to her husband, Johnny for 10 years. After 14 years in the medical field, including almost a decade as a nurse, she is enjoying being a stay at home mom with all the coffee and play dates that go along with that. She also enjoys eating out, running, gardening, and lake vacations.