Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an endless supply of horrifying news. The number of people infected or dying doubles every X days, depending on the country in which you are located. The number of people suddenly rendered unemployed in the US hit record levels. There have been business closures, retirement funds wiped out, and strains on healthcare provision that resulted in triage normally reserved for the battlefield.
Most of us can muster the goodwill to feel sorry for people who have experienced such losses. We reach out to the ones we know personally and encourage them as we can. We pray for the ones we do not know well enough to enter into their private grief. These are good things.
A bad thing that sometimes accompanies our empathy, however, is our willingness to weigh the losses of others on some internal scale. We decide, unilaterally, whose losses are greater than others. And, we determine based on that internal scale who is worthy of our compassion and who is not. Families who have a member in ICU are worthy of our prayers; families who have to stay indoors and homeschool their children are not. People who lose their jobs and can’t make their rent this month deserve our sympathy; people whose routines were turned upside down but are still getting paid do not.
I agree, some of us are way too invested in having our own way and the Lord is giving us this opportunity to grow in trust and perseverance. But is it really my place to look down on others based on how I value their loss?
Somewhere in the world, there is a young person who dreamed all year of asking his or her crush to the prom – now cancelled. Somewhere, there is an older couple who had their retirement “trip of a lifetime” planned, years in the planning – only they can’t retire now. Somewhere, there is a growing young family ready to make an offer on their first house – only now they don’t qualify for a mortgage.
None of these people are sick or destitute. But are they not worthy of our compassion? Have they not suffered loss? Their hopes and dreams also died. During a season of great loss, let’s not withhold our love from those whose suffering we decide is insufficient to merit our compassion. Christ is concerned for all our rejoicing and our mourning. Let us be as He is.