S2P4 – Grieving with the grief-stricken
Pro 25: 20
Like one who takes off a garment in cold weather, or like [a reactive, useless mixture of] vinegar on soda, is he who [thoughtlessly] sings [joyful] songs to a heavy heart.
Empathy can be defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. When you are experiencing a time of difficulty, it can feel like a lonely road. It is not uncommon for someone who is troubled or overcome by sadness to think that no one else understands this grief. This can be especially true when those around you try to elevate your mood with humor and lightheartedness when you need anything but that.
This verse has as its focus sensible consideration. The illustrations used to symbolize the thoughtless, joyful singer indicate that his behavior is senseless, useless and purposeless. It does not consider the grieving person and his specific emotional need. He may not even notice that grief has entered the room. Whether he is consumed by some other distraction, or whether he just has not taken the time to develop spiritually and emotionally enough to discern when another is in a place of brokenness, or whether he sings his joy despite recognizing the sadness before him, his song is futile. It simply does no good because his joy is misplaced.
When your neighbor is wallowing in sorry, thoughtfully consider how you can provide the appropriate comfort. Do not try to change the mood in an instant. Ask God for discernment, patience and compassion. Remember that while some people may benefit from laughing through the pain, others need to cry it out. I pray that God gives you the wisdom to discern which your neighbor needs.