If I gave you a detailed account of my life all the way back to childhood, and continuing on to this very day, without holding anything back from you, you would likely say I have every reason to feel endlessly sad and to feel sorry for myself. Self-pity would be a perfect fit, you might well say. Truth is I am so prone to self-pity and always have been that it is almost like part of the very fabric of my life. But there are 3 grave dangers when it comes to self-pity, and I strive to not fall prey to it and encourage you with all my heart to work hard to stay clear of it as well.
First and foremost, the greatest danger with self-pity, contrary to what you might think, is not that having it hurts ourselves. God’s greatest command is to love Him with all our heart, and self-pity is all about self not about God. It keeps us self-focused instead of God-focused. It causes us to be consumed with ourselves. It is sin against God we need to purge from our hearts and lives. We need to turn away from it and learn not to turn back to it. Surely we must grieve God’s heart when we feel sorry for ourselves and neglect to be thankful to God and to praise and adore Him and to live to the fullest the lives He has given us and resolve to fulfill the calling and purpose He has for our lives. Not an easy task for those prone to self-pity like I am, but God enables us to obey Him. He empowers us by His Holy Spirit to turn away from sin.
The second greatest danger of self-pity then must be about how we hurt ourselves, right? I believe not. God’s second greatest command is to love others as ourselves. So it would seem the second worst danger of self-pity is how we hurt others when we sit around pitying ourselves. How can we love others to the utmost, and bless and help them, encourage and pray for them, give to them and sacrifice for them, share the Gospel with them and help them follow Jesus, show them the love and light of Christ, etc., when we are consumed with feeling sorry for ourselves? Should it not be that we should rid ourselves of the self-pity and love God with all our hearts and love others? I think so!
The third greatest danger of self-pity, I believe, is in fact about self. Oh, how we miss out on the blessedness of the intimate relationship God desires to have with us, and on the healthy godly relationships God wants us to have with others, and on fulfilling God’s calling for our lives, and on enjoying His goodness each and every day no matter the trials of our lives, when we walk around continually pitying me, me, and me. Yes, I believe with all my heart, and I speak from much experience, self-pity comes with more and more misery, downheartedness, depression, etc. and an endless vicious cycle it seems of more and more focus on self and pity, pity, and more pity.
Friend, with all my heart I say to you that there are most assuredly trials, challenges, circumstances, and tribulations in our lives whereby it is perfectly normal and natural to experience sadness, sorrow, mourning, grief, struggle, despair, some depression perhaps, etc. I speak from much, much, much experience with seemingly relentless struggles. But I believe we have a choice.
We can pour out our hearts to the Lord, go to Him for love, healing, and comfort and strength and wisdom, reach out to fellows Jesus followers and even professionals if God so leads us, for love, help, support, prayer, encouragement, etc., above all else spend time in God’s presence enjoying His presence, nearness, and the peace and joy we can find in Him, read, read, read the Bible, follow His direction in receiving whatever help He wants us to have, etc. This is all well and good when it is according to the will of the Lord.
But what we should NOT do is feel sorry for ourselves and get stuck in the quicksand of self, self, self whereby we distance ourselves from God and others in our hearts and/or our lives, we turn our backs to God and the Bible, we refuse the help He desires us to have, we put up a wall others cannot get through to love and support us, and we can’t get past thinking of ourselves and all that hurts and refuse to cry out to God and follow the leading of His Holy Spirit as He desires to lift us up out of the pit of self-centeredness and all that goes with it.
Please learn with me how to spot self-pity when it comes, repent of it when the Holy Spirit points out to us we have fallen into it, and resolve as I am to do your best to leave it behind and instead to take the glorious almighty tender loving hand of the Lord as He leads you forth in His intimate fellowship and loves, helps, comforts, sustains, guides, directs, and brings you through the trials of this life.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” Psalms 42:11 NKJV
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:2-5 NKJV
“My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah” Psalms 62:5-8 NKJV
“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23 NKJV