If you are having a great day today, someone else is living in new or continuing tragedy. If you can do nothing but cry, someone else cannot stop laughing. If you are experiencing freedom, someone else is enslaved. If your marriage is in shambles, someone else is enjoying the wife of their youth. If you are in a season of triumph, someone else is suffering another defeat. If you are beaten down, someone else is lifted up.
And because this is true, we should be ready to mourn and ready to rejoice—no matter what our circumstances.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15
The problem for us as believers is not so much that some have it better or worse than others, but that we struggle to empathize with the group we are not presently in. We can feel pain for others when we are in pain ourselves, or get excited at the joy in others when we have it already.
Basically, we are feeling how we already feel and then “feeling it” in the direction of another person. Anybody can do that.
But Christ has shown us a better way, so that we may weep when we have joy and rejoice when we are buried in sorrow. The gospel helps us see that our lives are not about us, and in so doing, liberates us to care about others like God has cared for us. Because true life is found outside of ourselves and is hidden with Christ (Col 3:3), we are free to exit our own circumstance and enter the experience of someone else. And when we put ourselves aside to focus on someone else, that is love.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:35