If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
1 Corinthians 12:26 (NLT)
My phone dings, and I see her text: “Could you read something I wrote? I don’t know if it’s any good, but I wanted to see if you could just take a look and tell me what you think.”
I could hear the hesitancy in her words and how much courage it took for her to ask. We had met each other at a conference, and from our brief interactions, I knew she had stories to tell, pain to express, and wisdom to lead with. We noticed each other in a breakout session for writers interested in getting published, and afterward we talked in hushed tones about our hopes for where our writing would go. The writing world and its nuances were new for us, and we parted ways holding those hopes for each other.
Eventually, I became an editor, and I watched from afar as her leadership took her places. I witnessed her voice become louder and stronger as she processed the current social climate through her newsletters. I could see that she was becoming freer, more herself, and less afraid of what people would think of her.
And so was I.
Her text was an unexpected but pleasant surprise. She shared how she had been keeping up with me as well and thought she’d take a step of faith by reaching out. I was honored to be entrusted with a first read of her writing, and I agreed to take a look and get back to her soon.
I wasn’t prepared for her gift with words. She wrote with precision and power, beauty and hope. She didn’t shy away from naming her pain, and her pastoral and prophetic leadership shined through her stories. I was blown away by her natural talent, and I texted her immediately to tell her so.
She responded, “Really? You think so?” Her lack of confidence boggled my mind, and I sent back ten yeses in all caps with way too many exclamation marks. I assured her I wasn’t just saying it because she was a friend. I genuinely believed she should be writing and getting published.
We went back and forth about her essay a couple of times, but it wasn’t until years later that I received another text: “The essay we worked on got published in a book!”
I squealed in delight at this news. Her success wasn’t only about her but also about the many other women — particularly women of color — who would see her name in a book and know what was possible for them too. Her joy was my joy.
First Corinthians 12:26 says, “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.” And Romans 12:15 simply says, “Be happy with those who are happy” (NLT). In Christ, we are intricately intertwined and interdependent on one another. Because we are made for community and placed in community, we cannot separate our grief or our joy from that of others.
In a world and time when social media and celebrity culture hype certain people over others, it’s easy to feel envious of someone else’s success. Those feelings are understandable and shouldn’t be shoved down in order to celebrate others. Instead, we can bring our honest selves before God, confessing our hurt, disappointment, and anger, acknowledging our own desire for success, and letting God be a balm for us. He can realign our hearts to His, remind us that together we make up the body of Christ, and teach us to be glad when another is honored.
We can be countercultural by cheering each other on, and in doing so we participate in the joy that God has for us all.
I relished in my friend’s news. I was so proud of her work, her persistence, and her increasing belief in herself. I had the privilege of watching her growth like a time-lapse of a seed becoming a plant, and my delight was just a glimpse of God’s rejoicing over her. And from my vantage point, I could see that this was just the beginning.
GOD, thank You that there isn’t a limited amount of joy to go around and that one person’s success doesn’t cancel out another’s. You are not a God of scarcity but of abundance. I confess that there are times when I have a hard time cheering someone else on when I’m not in the same place or position as they are. But I want to learn to participate in their joy as You are inviting me to do. Thank You for creating us to be the body of Christ so that gladness can be multiplied instead of hoarded. Amen.
Ada Orie says
Good morning. Thank you for sharing this devotional. I appreciate this beautiful reminder of celebrating one another. As a freelance proofreader who used to do proofreading full time, I have an editor’s heart too. I am also writing my first book. I know this is reminder from God he sees me. It is a joy to be celebrated and to celebrate one another. Thank you for this wonderful and beautiful reminder. God bless you!
Ruth Mills says
I believe not cheering each other on is a sin of not being content with what God has given me. He is trustworthy & faithful to lavish each of us with what is best for each of us. To be jealous of another insults God’s good design for each of us. Success for 1 is not given at the expense of another. We are given a choice to shrink our trust in God’s goodness & not share each other’s joys or expand our understanding of His faithfulness & cheer each other along. The same is true for sharing each other’s burdens. It is God Himself that enables us to weep with those who weep. Shrinking away from other’s pain does not protect us from feeling our own. Sharing makes us all stronger. Praise God He gives us each other to point us to Himself, cheer each other on & share the tears! Thank you for this challenging & encouraging devotional. Blessings, sister!
Your comments are always SPOT ON.
Don’t laugh, but I have started a journal book titled, Ruth’s wisdom!
Nita Wright says
Who is the author?
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Thank you for writing this. So well said. We are not in all things to jealous of someone else’s doing well. We are to cheer them on and be glad they did well. Especially if we didn’t do as well as them. God is teaching us to be pleased with them and not let it get to us they did well if we didn’t. Something’s in life people do better than us we do better in things than them. We are all different we are not let the Jealousy of them get to us. As if we do it will only eat us up. God does not want that. Yes it hard to think of you put all your hard work into do what your doing and it didn’t come out as you expected. Then another person does it better theirs sounds better than yours. As you are only going to if you let it get to let it eat you up. I done that in the past over things. God showed me you did your best you tired and God loves a trier. Be proud of yourself for a least trying. Be pleased and don’t let the Jealousy get the better of you. Be pleased for the person who did it better than you. As the Jealousy will only eat you up. Be happy you tried your best. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
I won’t say I stumbled across this website, Believe its meant to have happened this morning. I’ve often considered telling my story by via A “My” (Book) Am I In The Right Place, Is The True Question
Beth Williams says
If encouraging someone is countercultural then count me in! I cheer people on all the time. Working at a large teaching hospital we often have student RNs. The other day one student was hesitant to do something new. I told her she could do it. You’ve got this. I’m always encouraging & thanking people for what they do. My thought is that we are all in this together. God has gifted each of us with different talents. We should use them to His glory & be happy when others succeed. In that we can participate in the joy God has for us all.
This was meant for me today! I just came from a Bible Study where the topic was celebrating! One of the things that wasn’t mentioned was celebrating each other! I like that idea! We talked about celebrating the small victories! God is faithful! I had searched some of these devotionals on the weekend and somehow missed this one that went right along with our study! God’s timing was perfect for me to find it today and confirm the message from this morning! God Bless you all!
The devotional and the comments are all so helpful, insightful and thought provoking. One thought I had for when we find ourselves struggling to rejoice with our sister in her success is about our journey of maturing in Christ. I’m not where I was, but I’m also not where I know my sweet Jesus wants me to be. Admitting to God is the second step after we face it ourselves. Sometimes we are much harder on ourselves than anyone else would be. The more I know God the Creator, the more I want to tell him where I am lacking so he can love me through it and I can keep growing in Him.