The Tucson Tragedy: How To Weep
A friend of mine commented the other day that whereas Paul calls us to work out our salvation with “fear and trembling” he felt more that his was being worked out with “chuckles and shrugs.” The next day I met with a congregant who expressed with resignation that every day seemed a battle against the “dark and depressive.” Every new day seemed to just bring dark news and personal difficulty.
Paul the apostle called us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and week with those who weep.” Romans 12:15
This week has been a week closer to the second encounter than the first. I just came back from an event memorializing the one year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti. Despite many smiling and resilient faces, the news was far from uplifting: hundreds of thousands still living in tents, drinking water still inaccessible to many of them, and structural and governmental problems perhaps even worse than the on-the-ground issues. Arriving back in my office I received a text from my mom who is (as I type) at the memorial service held at McKale Center for the victims of the tragedy in Tucson this past Saturday.
And yet, in the midst of this week I have two friends who have welcomed new lives into their homes and two congregants who were on their deathbeds just weeks ago come back to church for the first time.
What does it look like to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep”? How do we faithfully live this sort of existence where we’re buffeted between good and evil, joy and sorrow? There isn’t an easy answer. It’s the life we’re called to, though, so we ought to examine ourselves, considering whether we have more difficulty rejoicing or weeping. When you hear the joyful news from a friend do you get a twinge of jealousy or do you read gloom into the story (‘That couple will never last!’) ? Or do you shut yourself off from sorrow, avoiding the news because it’s too depressing or offering trite advice to friends who have received bad news (‘Remember Jill, all things work together for good!’)?
We probably all need a corrective. The Christian life is a life of joy and sorrow, of highs and lows. To not experience either means you aren’t fully living out the full life Christ has called you to live – bearing the struggles and pain of your brothers and sisters and experiencing the glorious glimpses of hope that he opens for us in this life. It’s the life Christ intends for us and will give us the strength for. So rejoice and weep this week: you need them both.