Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rejoicing with those Who Rejoice

Do you remember that verse in Romans 12 that talks about weeping with those who weep, and rejoicing with those who rejoice?

What is the hardest one for you?

For years I focused on the "weep with those who weep" part. I figured that when a friend was hurting, it was important to hurt with them. To enter into their pain, and not just ignore it or give it a passing glance, just enough to buy a card but that's it.

Lately, though, I've started to wonder if the "rejoice with those who rejoice" is actually harder. Sure, it's fun to cheer when a friend gets married. That is, if you're already married. It's great to cheer when your sister announces she's pregnant! If, of course, you haven't just had four miscarriages. What about when a friend of yours signs a great book deal, when you've been waiting for a nibble on your proposal for months?

Then it's a little bit tricker, isn't it?

The publishing industry today is very cut throat. There's an economic downturn coming, and it will be harder to get our books published. So there's even more room for jealousy, and feeling badly, and wondering if you're doing this all for nothing. And it's hard to look when someone else seems so much more successful.

But God calls us not just to look, but to rejoice! He asks us to be happy for them, because He is the One doing the work. He has a reason that their book is selling, that their baby is healthy, that their marriage is working. These things can be difficult when someone else is living the dream that we have nurtured for years, but I think God is calling us to dream His dreams, and not only our own.

That doesn't mean that He doesn't give us individual dreams. But we have to remember that He has the ultimate plan for this world. And we have to rejoice just for being a part of it.

I find that difficult, to focus on God, rather than the things that I have built up in my mind. But I am learning, slowly but surely, that He is guiding me in my writing and my speaking, just not in the directions I thought. My speaking is currently going better than my writing, which is perhaps typical of this economy. I'm looking at doing more self-publishing, especially of devotionals, since I already have a ready audience. But I'm also interested in the idea of communicating, and not only writing. Speaking, even "twittering", if need be!

God has given each of us specific audiences. Some of those audiences may be large and some small, but He has put them in our path for a reason. Let's not lament that He didn't do a better job; let's rejoice with what He's given us, and rejoice with what He's given others. Let's focus on Him, not on us!

Here's a little video clip of me talking about what it means to focus on something. Hope you enjoy it!

Sheila is the author of four books, including How Big Is Your Umbrella: Weathering the Storms of Life. Find Sheila at!

She blogs at, and twitters at


The Koala Bear Writer said...

Hmmm... very true. I've been tempted to be jealous of others books, but you're right that God calls us to rejoice. He has a plan and a time for all of us!

violet said...

Well written and well said, Sheila. Now to live it out.

violet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Black said...

Hello Sheila.
You, and so many ladies, constantly amaze me with your ability to cut to the chase and frame salient truths and common (or perhaps more accurately, uncommon) wisdom in a most entertaining way.
Every blessing,

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