The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
1. Weeping With Those Who Weep
I used to feel guilty because after a squabble with a friend, I am shaken and upset. Meanwhile, some people I know have lived and carried themselves well through traumatic events. Recently someone I know lost custody of 13 adopted children due to a false allegation from a fake pastor. The manner in which the officials took the children away was horrible. And this lady has miscarried twice. I feel guilty because how can I have a heavy heart when others are experiencing so much more pain then me? But my mom said something wise:
“Stress is stress. I look at it this way: If someone pours 10 gallons of water over me, I am completely wet. If someone pours 100 gallons of water over me, I am completely wet. Once I am completely wet, the amount of water doesn’t make much difference. Depression is going to feel like depression, misery like misery, no matter the cause.
If a 2 year old cries because her balloon popped, or a 10 year old cries because her dog died, they are both equally broken-hearted.
Having said that, experience, thinking and coping skills will impact what makes you feel depressed. Experience gives you a different perspective and things that once seemed almost unbearable become “one of those things” that happen…
God will put in each person’s life the things they need in order to become more like Christ, and the things that will glorify Him. Your feelings are important to Him, and they are your feelings, your personal response, like being hungry, or too hot, even when others aren’t. So get that snack or take your sweater off or feel disappointed whenever you need to!”
Something which may not be an issue for you may be devastating to someone else. If my husband had to go on a trip for a couple months, it would be very hard for me but I’d manage. But to someone else the idea of their husband leaving for a few weeks may sound absolutely heartbreaking.
But we should be careful not to devalue a person’s pain. Let’s remember what happened when Jesus’ friend Lazarus died and He went to see Lazarus’ family:
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved[e] in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Jesus knew that He would raise Lazarus, yet He wept with the family because He loved them and had compassion on them. He didn’t scold them for greiving, instead He showed compassion. Likewise, when someone is in pain we should be careful when we tell them, “It could be worse.” Paul said it perfectly in Romans 12:15-16,
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”
We can tell God of our pain and never worry that it’s something too small to tell Him.
2. Self-Inflicted Pain
We should also be kind to hurting people, even if their pain is self-inflicted. I think all of us make sometimes stupid decisions which cause heart-ache and regret in our own lives, and I am thankful to people who haven’t told me, “Look what you’ve done! You should have known better!” But have rather comforted me and given me a second chance. I want to be this way towards others.
This doesn’t mean however that we should always get caught up in a drama. Some people are constantly causing harm to themselves through bad decisions. Many of us, I’m sure have had a friend who is always in a financial crisis and is always asking for money. We may have tried to help them a few times, but quickly we learn that trying to get them financially stable is like trying to empty the ocean with a cup because they’re always making bad decisions.
I have a friend who is a Drama Queen. Some problem is always happening with her. Small things which I ignore she makes a big deal out of. It may be she does it to get attention, but often she does experience, real honest pain. The first few times a friend supposedly betrayed her, I showed her kindness. I cooked for her, kept her company and read to her from the book of Psalms. But then I found she kept having bad relationships with people and she often gossiped about others.
But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.
We should not be close to people who continually cause trouble, but when we run across them we can still be gracious. We cannot force other people to behave well or be wise, which is hard if they’re causing themselves pain. Even God does not force people to love Him because He made each of us with free will. But we can control our own behavior towards them with the help of the Holy Spirit and love others with the love of Jesus.