When Good Days Bring Up Bad Things
When I was about 10 years old, my baby sister had a seizure. I have a vivid memory of my mom laying out her tiny seizing body on the living room floor – in front of a Christmas tree, with Christmas music in the background, because it was Christmas Day.
Thankfully, my little sister is healthy and happy today, with a baby girl of her own. But every once in a while, when I see blinking multi-colored lights on a pine tree, I flash back to that scary moment. Because sometimes good days can bring up bad things.
Our church recently joined with churches across the nation to celebrate a really good day: Mother’s Day. What an important day to appreciate and encourage the influential women in our lives! But there is no doubt this day brought up some tough stuff. Mothers lost to cancer, motherhood prevented by infertility, mothering unwanted by estranged children.
Truly all kinds of special and even normal days are fraught with complications due to abandonment, trauma, loss, and conflict. Some of us know this all too well. Some of us are too busy enjoying good days to notice. But our faith calls us to an unusual degree of empathy. Romans 12:15 tells us to “mourn with those who mourn.” This is so counter-cultural and unnatural. It means fighting against our innate desire to be comfortable and safe. It means getting messy and opening ourselves up to someone else’s pain. Who does that?!
There is another side to the empathy coin. Romans 12:15 also calls us to “rejoice with those who rejoice.” How is this possible? How is it possible for a childless woman to celebrate with her pregnant sister? How is it possible for a sick person to delight in another’s recovery? How is it possible for an overlooked employee to toast his friend’s promotion? It is only possible through the unusual, counter-cultural empathy that goes hand-in-hand with an authentic faith. A faith that finds its anchor in Jesus Christ, a nowhere else.
I don’t know if the sun is shining in your world or if it’s falling out of the sky. But if you are pursuing Jesus, you are called to see other people. You are called to an unusual level of empathy. You are called to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit within you, who will help you know when to mourn and when to rejoice.
And it might start with simply recognizing that good days can bring up bad things for people.