Read Romans 12:15
15 Share the happiness of those who are happy, the sorrow of those who are sad. (JBP)
Anyone who wants to experience authentic Christian community has to take words like this very seriously. We are not gloom-and-doom merchants always focussing on the terrible sadness of some lives. Church is not simply a place where you go when you have a problem.
Then again, we are not called upon to put on a happy face when we meet together and pretend all is well when it is not. Church is not a glee club where we meet to cheer one another up. There is too much broken-heartedness in our midst to be like that.
Practising the truth of this text implies we know at least some people well enough to know if they are happy or sad. A church full of strangers is a sad contradiction in terms. A church where we feel we have to be gloomy or cheery is a shallow thing.
It needs considerable wisdom for church leaders to enable the sharing of both good news and not-so-good news in public gatherings. One person sharing with joy a marvellous answer to prayer may be addressing quite a few who are despondent about lack of answers to their own equally fervent prayers. And it is dangerous if we allow those who are despondent or despairing to dominate our gatherings either.
Jesus himself was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, yet a man who was involved in numerous celebratory events. He was a man for all seasons. And so we are invited to be companions to others on the shifting seasons of their own faith journeys.