Thursday, July 25, 2013

Should I Still Mourn With Someone Whose Mourning Isn’t Based in Reality?

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

So what if the person’s weeping is unfounded? Or what if their rejoicing is foolishness? Am I still called to rejoice with them? To weep with them?

It’s pretty easy to say that if some guy is rejoicing because he just had an affair, I should not join in his cheer. Nor should I match the anguish of soul my daughter feels when she skins her knee. Rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep does not necessarily mean matching their emotion.

What I see Paul saying in this verse (and the surrounding context) is that believers ought to have a Christ-consumed heart for others. This means that my heart is so invested in your heart that I ache with you or rejoice with you. My joy is found in your joy. My tears fall when yours do. It is as if the hearts of believers are glued together by the Lord.

This also means that our hearts will be grieved and not glad when a believer rejoices in sin. And we might rejoice—perhaps as somber rejoicing—when the Lord causes a man to weep for his sin and it leads to repentance. Therefore, I say that we must have a Christ-consumed heart for others.

So what about depression?

When a person experiences a dark night of the soul and goes through a period of depression it feels like everything that you are thinking is legit. You feel sad and often do not even know why. There is nothing attached to it. No real reason to mourn. No real reason to be discouraged and faint of heart.

What should a fellow believer do in this case? Am I to mourn with the one that is mourning; even if their mourning is not based on reality?

Yes and No.

Consider Jesus Raising Lazarus

Jesus went to the tomb of Lazarus fully knowing that He would raise him from the dead. Death would not be the end of the story on this day. Even after Jesus proclaims, “Your brother will rise again”, there is still weeping and mourning all around him. It is weeping that is not based in reality.

The only tears that should fall at a resurrection are tears of joy. Yet, Mary and Martha and the others have not yet seen the resurrection of Lazarus. They’ve only heard it on Jesus’ lips. They believe him. Oh, how they believe him. But they still ache. They cannot help but mourn.

Now catch Jesus’ response to their sadness:

When Jesus saw [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit, and greatly troubled…Jesus wept.

Jesus is mourning. But he’s not mourning in the same way that they are. He’s broken by all the sadness around him. He’s weeping because of the cold reality of death and the Fall. He feels it more than anyone else in history has felt it. He created beauty, and therefore he sees fully the harsh reality of life outside Eden. And he weeps.

Then he raises Lazarus from the dead.

Jesus’ weeping is filled with hope and trust. He knows fully that God will be glorified and death will not deal a blow on this day. And He knows that on a dark Friday a short time later, He will deal a decisive blow to death. It will lose its sting.

Their weeping was filled with confusion, darkness, questions, tainted faith, with little flickers of hope. And it is the same way with depressed believers. The mourning of depression is often a hopeless weeping. We dare not join in that. But weep we must.

We weep because depression is not yet conquered. We weep because they are weeping—no matter how distanced from reality. We mourn with them, fully knowing that some day our faith shall be sight and they—along with us—will never be detached from reality again. But we mourn because that’s a not yet.

Mourn we must. But when we are given the grace of sanity and clarity of sight we had better mourn with a hope-filled shout of “Maranatha!”

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