Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
I compare myself to people (and by people, I mean my friends) quite a bit. There have been times when I felt like their lives were moving faster and going better than my own. Before Stephen and I got engaged (five years ago!), it seemed everyone else had a ring on their finger. When I lost my job, some friends were promoted or got new jobs. When we renewed a lease on our apartment, some friends were buying houses. When we began talking about starting a family, friends announced they were pregnant.
I won’t lie and say that I handled all of those situations with joy and grace. It’s a lot easier to mope and sulk and say, “Why can’t that be me?”
But that’s not what God’s Word calls us to do. In his epistle to the Romans, the apostle Paul wrote, “Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15). (He continues on to write, “Mourn with those who mourn,” but that’s a post for another day.)
We’re called to rejoice with our friends. We’re called to celebrate the engagements, weddings, new jobs, homes, promotions, babies, graduations, good days, etc.
It’s not always easy. Actually, I can tell you from personal experience that it can be hard sometimes. But my goal for the last year or so has been to be intentional in rejoicing with my friends and family. Here are a few things I’ve learned/gained from trying to be a rejoicing friend:
1. Rejoicing with those who rejoice gives me an opportunity to praise God. A friend just got engaged? Praise God for the marriage covenant. Someone got a promotion? Praise God for giving her the talents and skills she needs to thrive. A friend is expecting a baby? Praise God for new life. The blessing doesn’t have to be “mine” to praise Him.
2. Friendships are stronger when jealousy doesn’t hinder them. A jealous heart is not a joyful heart. If my first reaction to a friend’s good news is a stiff posture and quick grimace, it can strain a friendship. Celebrating your friends results in a closer bond.
3. The Lord is there (and cares) when rejoicing is hard. Let’s face it—sometimes celebrating is hard. It’s hard to go to a wedding when you’re wondering if you’ll ever plan your own. It’s difficult to celebrate a friend’s new job when you’re not even getting an interview. It’s hard to hold your friend’s baby when you’re wondering when your time will come. Rejoicing with those who rejoice doesn’t mean you can’t mourn and feel sorrow. But take that sorrow to the Lord. First Peter 5:7 says to cast your cares on the Lord because He cares for you. When rejoicing is hard, I need the Lord’s strength even more.