Practical Cure for Self-Pity: Turn it Around

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Copyright 5/11/13 By Sarah G. Pemberton

It never fails.  Every time I am tempted to soak in a self-pity bath, the Lord reminds me of those whose best days are not as blessed as my worst.  So as I let go of my whiner’s list yesterday afternoon, and took a hold of the Bread and Wine of Holy Communion and prayed over it, I meditated upon those people whose circumstances today look truly hopeless.  I asked the Lord to send out His armies of angels to every innocent captive of kidnappers and slave traders, to every prisoner in a communist concentration camp, every persecuted Christian being beaten or tortured, and I asked Him to lift the load of despair from their shoulders.  I asked Him to make His comforting  Presence known to them, to open their spiritual eyes to see Him in their darkest hour.  I asked Him to miraculously free those who are crying out to Him, and to save from the deception of evil, their guards and captors.  I asked Him to raise up many “Sauls of Tarsus,” as well as many “Philippian jailers,” in this generation, from among the darkest, most evil and unlikely places.  I asked Him to multiply the miracle rescues of many Amanda Berrys, and many Elizabeth Smarts, and many Jaycee Dugards in the coming years, that they might know there is a God in heaven who hears the cries of those who trust Him.

As I prayed, I felt from God’s heart the anguish of the mothers who would do anything to see their lost children again; of the families whose loved ones have been arrested for the gospel.  I wept tears that were much more expensive than the self-pitying ones I had wished to shed earlier, before Holy Spirit got my attention and snapped me out of it.

So my goal was to make Satan sorry he worked so hard to get me into that self-pity, because I turned it around and used it as a weapon of empathy for the lost, turning it against him, instead.  Best of all, it left me with a feeling of empowerment where I’d felt powerless; it left me with a feeling of accomplishment where I’d felt like a failure; and it left me feeling connected with the Lord, where I’d felt far away.

So where is it that you struggle with that common nemesis of all mankind, Self-Pity, and its close cousins, Discouragement, Doubt, Despair, and Hopelessness?  The most powerful weapons we have as Christians against these demonic lies are [1] gratitude for the blessings we do enjoy (even when life may not be going as delightfully as we desire), and [2] prayer for the needs of those whose circumstances make our worst nightmares look like a Sunday picnic.  Either one disarms Self-Pity faster than Superman can stop a speeding bullet.

Imagine you are Satan.  Your goal is to distract, discourage, disarm, and destroy the faith, trust, hope and love of every human being from the intimate, powerful, authoritative partnership with God for which we were all designed.  One of the devil’s favorite weapons, therefore, is to invert our focus from true worship, praise, and obedience toward God, (as he knows how true worship is our mightiest weapon against him), and to turn our eyes inward to our own insecurity.  If Satan can get us focused on ourselves, rather than on God, he has his first hook in.  If he can convince us that God is “holding out on us” some basic need, he can hook us into self-pity, built upon doubt of God’s Word.  (Gen. 3:1-5)  If he can get us to feel sorry for ourselves, he can persuade us to give up trusting the last Truth God said to us.  (Gen. 3:6-7)  And if he can persuade us to not trust God’s Word, he can persuade us to disobey, failing to see the long-range value in obedience.

So you can see quickly what a powerful strategy it is to simply: [1] Confess your frustration (over whatever-it-is-that’s-not-going-your-way) as sin; [2] Remind yourself that if there’s a discrepancy between your feelings and God’s Promises, that the question of Who’s Right should be a no-brainer; [3] Begin to think of those whose circumstances are so bad that your current situation would seem to them like heaven-on-earth; [4] Ask the Holy Spirit for His strategies in effective prayer (Jas. 5:16) for those desperate people He puts on your heart; [5] Begin to thank and praise God for the everyday blessings you had started to take for granted, for which others desperately cry out in prayer.

There now!  Don’t you feel better already?

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  (I Thess.  5:16-18)

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