Share the happiness of those who are happy, the sorrow of those who are sad. (JBP)
Most of us understandably want to avoid sadness. Some have the mistaken notion that they need to insulate themselves against such sadness, refuse to face it in themselves or others. This is mistaken for two reasons. One is that it is impossible in practice. The other is that if we detach ourselves from sorrow we will also detach ourselves from joy.
A determination to avoid facing the reality of sadness leads to difficulties in facing happiness. We cannot selectively censor our feelings so that we only ever feel the pleasant ones. We may know of people who seem very “flat”. They don’t seem to feel many feelings at all. Perhaps it is because they are so intent on turning away from sadness that they have no capacity to embrace happiness when it stares them in the face.
Christians are encouraged to enter into the feelings of others. We are not to avoid those in sorrow out of fear of succumbing to sorrow ourselves. We are not to be just “fair weather” companions. We are to feel our feelings and the feelings of others rather than being tiresome cheerleaders forever identifying with only the most positive feelings.
A refusal to face the pains of life will mean an inability to plunge into the pleasures of life.