3 Practical Ways to Weep with Those Who Weep
- Michael Kelley michaelkelley.co
- 2017 10 Apr
Romans 12 is a chapter about the church. While you might be able to read Romans 1-11 in a purely individualistic way (though you should not), when you come to Romans 12, you are forced to think in terms of the people of God and not only the person of God. It’s in this chapter that we find Paul talking about spiritual gifts in believers and how to use those gifts for the building up of the body of Christ. And it’s in this chapter we also find a laundry list of practical commands that cannot be exercised unless you are relating to other people. These are the “one another’s” that assume there are indeed others.
His exhortations begin like this:
“Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:9-15).
It’s that last bit that has my attention today, for our family has been in these recent months in a season of grief. We have wept, and then wept again. And by God’s grace, there are those people who have wept alongside of us. This has been a very powerful thing for my family – to be loved and cared for and wept with by God’s people. We have seen it. Experienced it. And that experience has shown me that weeping with those who weep doesn’t necessarily mean crying. In fact, here are three practical ways that I have seen the people of God weep with those who weep:
1. They came to the funeral.
Our family had two funerals for family members in the Texas Panhandle within 7 days of each other. That’s over 1,000 miles from where we live in Nashville, TN. But we had a friend who came. Literally came. She came with the blessing of her family, who stayed behind and sacrificed those days away from her so that she could run errands, bring us funeral clothes, and then even babysit our children in the Dallas airport so that my wife and I could eat dinner together alone on the trip back.
I, for one, am not a very good funeral attender, and this simple action has deeply convicted me. Of course, you can’t always show up, for any number of reasons. And I would not begrudge anyone for failing to do so. At the same time, sacrificing your own personal schedule to simply be in attendance is more meaningful to me than I would have guessed. One of the greatest ways to weep with those who weep is to be physically present and available.
2. They stocked our pantry.
Our family was away from our home during this season for over two weeks. That’s longer than we’ve ever been away before, and significant considering that we only planned to be gone from the house for about 5 days. When we got home, we found that some dear friends had broken into our home and stocked our pantry with groceries. It meant for us that upon returning home, we didn’t have to think about the practical things like dinner which you would normally have to think about after having been gone for so long.
Though this is a great idea, the principle is what matters more – so many times when we want to help someone who is grieving, we ask the question to them, “What can I do?” Chances are, though, the answer will come back, “Nothing.” That’s probably what we would have said, as much because of our pride as because we simply didn’t have the emotional energy to find a good answer. These people, though, not only served us tangibly, they served us by taking the burden off of us of having to ask them to serve. Sometimes the best thing you can do to weep with someone is not to let them ask you for help, but simply tell them: “I’m buying you groceries. I’m mowing your lawn. I’m cleaning your house.”
3. They prayed like our friends.
I will never forget the prayers of two dear friends who, the day before I left for both of these funerals, prayed for me. And they prayed for us. But the nature of their prayers… I weep now as I think of it. They prayed specifically. Like those who knew us, and knew our children. They prayed in ways that a casual acquaintance never could, and it was in those prayers that I was reminded of the One who knows us better than we know ourselves who even then was interceding on our behalf before the throne of God above.
These prayers filled me with hope, not that the coming days would be easy, but that God would do the things they asked Him to do – that He would sustain us and help us to stand firm in faith. And He did.
The tears of the church are a beautiful thing, friends. There is nothing like them for those whose time has come for a season of grief. Weep, then, with those who weep, and let those tears be expressed in all kinds of ways that demonstrate the love of God that was already demonstrated through our Savior, who knows better than all what it means to suffer loss.
Michael Kelley is the Director of Groups Ministry for LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, TN. He and his wife Jana have three children. You can follow him on Twitter. (@_MichaelKelley)
Image courtesy: ©Thinkstock/danefromspain