Previous posts in the Live Alive series can be found here.
Guys! We are in the homestretch; only seven posts remain to be written! If you've hung in and been reading all of these, thank you. I'd love to hear from you about how God is using the series in your life. If you're just popping in for this post, welcome! In these final posts I'm going to share about some specific habits and perspectives that alive people have. At the end of the post about love not envying or boasting, I noted that I wanted to revisit and expand upon the topic of contentment. Let's go there today!
When I think about interacting with others in a godly way, falling neither into envy nor boasting, this is the verse that guides my behavior:
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
These words are nestled in a little passage of instructions from Paul to the Romans that my Bible subtitles, Marks of a True Christian. It's a great summary of how to live alive! For our purposes today, though, we'll focus on verse 15.
There was a period in my life when I had one baby and everyone else around me was moving on to having their second. My husband was not ready for more, which was perfectly fine. However, I was desperate to have our children close together. It was a difficult season for me, (and for him because he had to live with me)! During this season of discontent, God spoke into my life with verse fifteen. It went something like this: Heather, you may not be getting what you want, but that does not excuse you from celebrating when others announce their pregnancies. This is how I want you to live, trusting Me and loving others.
Of course, it's not like a heard an audible voice or anything, but over and over again, the Lord brought this verse to mind. During this season there were also very hard times for those around me: miscarriages and babies that died. Our ladies prayed for each other, made meals, and even put together a funeral luncheon for one family. Mourn with those who mourn.
When we imagine our self in another's position, rather than focusing on how it compares to our own, it is so much easier to live alive and enter into their season of rejoicing or mourning. As we do, we can let go of our envy of their good fortune or our judgement of their situation. We can rest contented in the space occupy in our lives and enter into that of another. We are not competitors; we are family.
Even in this season of life when I really don't want any more babies (like totally do not), I feel a prick of jealousy when someone announces they are expecting. It is so fun to share that news! I want in on it, to be the center of attention and care!! It is embarrassing, but it's true; this is just one delightful way temptation comes to me. But the Lord offers me the Romans 12:15 alternative. I can enter into their rejoicing and thus participate in the excitement!
Now, I don't have any trouble being jealous of another's mourning. That would be pretty silly! But I know the temptations to minimize their suffering, give advice, or share a story about my life, when what I need to do is zip my lips and mourn with those who mourn. We all know about how many foolish things are said at funerals and to grieving friends. Sometimes we just need to sit in the mourning with our brother or sister and weep with them, no matter how minor we think the loss is. It's not time for pride; it's time for brotherly love.
I wish I could tell you how quickly I applied Romans 12:15 to my life in that childbearing season. I can't. But I can tell you the tale of how God has used this verse over time to shape my character and help me to choose contentment and to really love my neighbor.
In this holiday season, you're gonna see a lot of awesome pictures on social media of people having fabulous times in situations that tempt you to envy: decorations, vacations, traditions, stable families, romantic love, good looks, etc. Pause in that moment of enticement and hit 'like' on Facebook or that heart on Instagram, and rejoice with those who rejoice. For others you know, the holiday season is one of grief and pain. Don't ignore or fluff it away, ask how they are doing, offer to help them with anything they need, sit and weep alongside them: mourn with those who mourn.
I'd love to hear how it goes.
To God be the glory in all our endeavors to live alive!