Have you ever struggled to show joy when a friend receives something they really, really want? Sometimes a friend will be rejoicing over some really great thing that has happened in their life, and I struggle to feel joy along with them. I smile, and do my best to act joyful, but I may not be feeling joyful. Then, to make matters worse, I feel horrible that I cannot rejoice with them! Of course, it can also happen the other way around: they are weeping and I am left struggling to understand what the big deal is.
Why does this happen? It can happen because their joy may be bringing up emotions from an old wound that hasn’t healed, or a desire that has not been satisfied. In this case their joy can feel like a dagger in your heart. They probably don’t even realize that the more they go on an on, the more pain you experience.
It can also happen because we are simply focused on ourselves, our wants and desires, and don’t really want to spend time and energy on them. This is a clear form of selfishness. Now, before you either congratulate yourself or castigate yourself, remember, we are all selfish! I have yet to meet a person who did not have an issue with selfishness, although I have met a few who appear to have it under control. The cure for this is simple, but hard to implement. We simply need to stop spending so much time thinking about ourselves. One of the things I most look forward to in heaven is not having to drag around and try to control this inordinate focus on myself!
The situations where they are weeping and we don’t understand or “feel” their pain reflect our lack of understanding and compassion for where they are at a given point in their lives. It is a form of judgment and condemnation. Ouch! It is not up to us to decide how much a person ought to mourn a particular loss, not do we know everything else that is leading up to their pain.
Now, whenever I catch myself “faking” either joy or sorrow for another, I realize I need to do a “heart check”. I need to examine what is going on inside of me and take it to the Lord, repenting, seeking His forgiveness and the strength to overcome. Each time I do this, I am one step closer to truly synchronizing with the other person, creating a unity that transcend space and time, just like the union that Jesus creates with me.