Romans 12:15

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

We had just returned from vacation expecting that our neighbors would have moved while we were away. Instead, they had been delayed and the moving van had just pulled out of their driveway. Now, they were left with the dregs of their household stuff to deal with. I went over to be of some assistance since it was quite late and there was a fair amount of dreg-work left to do.

At one point, after doing most of what needed doing, the three of us found ourselves standing together in the kitchen. I honestly don't remember what prompted it--some comment about being tired, I imagine--but in an instant Sandra's eyes were filled with tears and she couldn't speak. Her tiredness at making this move so far away with three small children was overwhelming her. Then I saw Arcadio's reaction. It wasn't impatience, although it had been a long ordeal for him, too. It wasn't a pep talk, even though they were nearly done and a final spurt of energy could have polished off the work. Instead, his eyes, too, filled with tears. He understood.

As I thought of this tonight I remembered these words from the Bible: "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn" (Romans 12:15). In todayís terms we would say to validate another's feelings--to regard those feelings as being valid.

Jesus did it when Mary met Him after Lazarus' s death (John 11:32-35). He wept. An honest preacher, when leading us through this story, admitted he probably would have used that opportunity to instruct Mary regarding Lazarusís better situation in heaven. He said he would probably think he was encouraging her with his words. I think of how Mary would have felt if she had been met with such "wisdom." Guilty, perhaps, for looking as if she didn't believe that, for appearing to be mourning without hope. Lonely, perhaps, to think that their dearest of friends did not share her sorrow. She might have returned home and thrown herself into her work as Martha had encouraged her to do, trying to ignore the sad emptiness inside herself. But Jesus didn't preach to Mary. He wept. How this reaction must have touched Mary's heart. He understood! She could be real with Him; she could open up more now and become more vulnerable because she didn't feel guilty or all alone or judged.

Isn't this what we all long for--someone in our lives, a true friend no matter the official relationship between us, who will rejoice when we rejoice and mourn when we mourn? A friend like Arcadio, a friend like Jesus. Oh, may someone, someday, say, a friend like me.

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