We have many reasons, often what seem to be really good reasons, to be 'strong'. But if the bottom line of being 'strong' is to constrict the range of emotions which we allow ourselves to experience, what do we gain? We become people incapable of honestly experiencing the emotional realities of life. In this and many other ways we manage to avoid the clear biblical injunction to mourn with those who mourn. Our instincts are often to cheer other people up, to look on the bright side of things, to remind people of things they already know to be true. This text urges us to do the most basic of things. When it is time to mourn, we can mourn.
We can also rejoice when it is time to rejoice. It might seem like it would be easier to rejoice together. But this is not necessarily true. People in recovery have often experienced so many disappointments and betrayals that we find it difficult to experience good things. When something good happens, we expect that bad things will be waiting right around the corner. Instead of rejoicing, our instincts are to protect ourselves from the possibility of the soon-to-follow danger. We do our best to 'stay calm' so that we won't be disappointed. But again, this text urges us to do the most basic of things. When it is time to rejoice, rejoice.
The full range of life's emotions are to be experienced in community. As we share the most basic elements of life together, as we party together and hold each other in times of pain, we will become a fellowship distinguished by a capacity for honesty.
I rejoice, Lord
You do not tell me to calm down.
You do not warn me about getting too excited.
You encourage me to celebrate.
'Party together', you say.
I mourn, Lord.
You do not tell me to cheer up.
You do not tell me to 'be strong'.
You encourage me to experience the pain.
'Weep together' you say.
Thank you for welcoming the full range
of human emotions.
Thank you for joy and sorrow.
Give me the courage to weep with others.
Give me the freedom to rejoice with others.
Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan
National Association for Christian Recovery