How to Divide Sorrow & Multiply Joy

The day my dad died, my mom & I drove home from the hospital in silence.  I honestly wondered what we would do next.  What would happen when we got back to the house?  Where would we even start?  How do you tell the news?  Things were different then, it wasn't the age of texting & immediate news spread on social media.  Who should we call first?

I remember we walked into the house from the garage & about 10 seconds after stepping foot into the house, the doorbell rang.  I went to the door & there stood a long time, family friend.  How in the world had she already gotten the news? 

It didn't matter because I fell into her arms.  She didn't say a word, she just held me.  When we went into the house, she held my mom too.  It was only moments later, more people started to show up at the door until there was a house full, but the first person there didn't mingle.  She got to work, doing small tasks that needed to be done, consoling, protecting & bringing in the presence of Jesus.

I’ll never forget how much I felt loved that day.  By everyone who showed up, but especially the first person because she wasn’t looking to give advice or make the situation “better”, she just wanted to be present & to do anything that needed to be done.  I know this person well enough to know our family occupied many hours of her prayer life during those grieving days as well.

My dad always used to say “Church family is meant to divide sorrow & multiply joy”.  It’s basically the same thing that Paul said to the church at Corinth in his letter to them.

Whatever happens to one member, happens to all.  If one suffers, everyone suffers.  If one is honored, everyone rejoices.  {1 Corinthians 12:26}

Divide Sorrow, Multiply Joy

Doesn’t it sound like something you want to be a part of?  I want to live a life that shows the world how to love like Jesus by carrying the burdens of others & making the joyful moments a bigger celebration.  {Galatians 6:2, Luke 10:30-37}

I want to live my life in such a way that I am so passionately involved with God that His deep & wide love overflows out of me to those around me. 

I know there have been times in my life where I have done this well.  To be brutally honest, right now isn’t one of them.  I need to hit the refresh button on my life & re-order my schedule to be a better friend.  So as I took a look at Jesus & His life, the way He walked with His friends, I realized there were some things He did that I want to do as well.

Jesus knew being a friend wasn’t about Him, but about the Father ~  Jesus understood that “doing life” with His friends meant that they needed to see the Father through Him.  He also counted His friends as a blessing.  He wanted more than anything that they see the Father in Him & that God Himself be glorified.  Jesus wasn’t looking to glorify Himself.  He didn’t try to meet their needs in His own strength.  Being a friend will cost you something.  You will have to sacrifice your comfort & your time, but the benefit comes in walking in the righteousness of God’s ways. {John 17:6-8}

Jesus prayed for His friends to stay faithful to God during difficulty ~ Peter couldn't see his own difficulty clearly, when he told Jesus he would go to prison or death with Him just before Jesus went to the cross.  Peter was in the thick of a trial & his vision & discernment were threatened.  When our friends are walking through a trial it is easy for them to begin to feel like suffering is the absence of God, but we are called to lift their faith by praying for them & encouraging them, not being their conscience.  We simply need to reassure that God is faithful & we are praying.  {Luke 22:32}

Jesus honestly rejoiced with those who rejoiced & mourned with those who mourned ~ There are many stories of Jesus' healing in the Bible, but the one that shows the mourning & the rejoicing the best is the story of Jesus healing Lazurus.  This is the passage where we see Jesus weeping over his dead friend & how His heart was moved with compassion, but when He called out Lazarus from the grave & said to loose him from his grave clothes, I know it was because Jesus was ready to party & rejoice over the good in this family's life.  {John 11, Romans 12:15}

Jesus showed up when His friends needed Him the most ~ His disciples had locked themselves in a room because of grief & fear.  They were in the blackest, darkest pit of their lives.  Then Jesus shows up.  Don't you know everything changed that day?  When we show up for our friends, it changes everything.  Knowing that you are loved enough for someone to show up for you makes difficulty bearable.  We are Jesus’ representation to our friends so we need to show up for them.  {John 20:19-29}

Jesus spurred His friends to faith without heaping guilt on them ~  The disciples found themselves in a mess of a storm.  It didn’t matter how they got there, but the storm was raging around their boat & they were afraid.  It seemed their friend didn’t care because He was sleeping in the bottom of the boat, but when he came up onto the top of the boat & calmed the storm, He asked them 2 questions.  Why were you afraid? And, where is your faith?  Asking questions, puts the responsibility back on the one who is being asked.  It doesn’t condemn but instead invites the heart to examine itself.  It spurs on our friends in a way that is loving & allows the Holy Spirit to do the work, remembering we are just a tool He is using. {Mark 4:35-41, Hebrews 10:24}

Jesus kept loving His friends, even when they offended Him ~  Can you even imagine how offensive it was that the disciples constantly questioned Jesus’ words?  When he told them to push out their boat, when he told them to distribute the food, when he told them He would die & be raised to life.  But yet, He kept on loving them, being their friend, encouraging them & showing up.  People can be hurtful in ways they don’t even realize.  There is a definitely a time & place for communication in regards to relationship responsibility, but when we are offended, let’s take it to God to see if it’s something we need to address or get over.  And let’s keep loving, encouraging & showing up for our friends.  {Luke 5:1-7, Matthew 14:13-21, Matthew 16:21-23}

How’s your love life with your friends?  Are you in it to magnify the Father?  Where do you need to ask Jesus to show you how to love better?