Have you ever felt sorry for yourself? I have and I’ve noticed something quite interesting. Whenever self-pity is at work it’s because I don’t have something I want. Self-pity is the logical result of a self preoccupied with expectations that may or may not be realistic or even right. I have also noticed that the solution to self-pity always comes from a reminder from God that He is all I need. Usually His prompts are gentle. He speaks through His word, or His Spirit brings to mind the blessings He so faithfully provides. I don’t believe I have ever had an extended, self-pity party. God is too awesome and nothing good ever comes from stewing, sulking, brooding or moping. Even the sound of those words should make us want to avoid them!
Life does not always go the way we would like it. We don’t always receive the treatment we think we deserve. Hagar thought she was doing pretty well. She was the maidservant to a wealthy woman, Sarai. When Sarai was unable to conceive, she gave Hagar to her husband—hoping to have children through her. (Most guys would freely admit that Abram probably loved the idea). Then Hagar gets pregnant and life is really good. She is the favored woman in a tent of frustration. Unfortunately all the success goes to her head and the Bible says she began to despise Sarai.
Sarai, instead of finding happiness vicariously, now has an uppity servant. She goes into a funk and does the natural thing—blame her husband for her suffering. Realizing he is in a no-win situation, Abram throws the responsibility back on her. Angry and feeling sorry for herself, Sarai so badly mistreats Hagar that the maidservant flees. An angel of the Lord finds Hagar near a spring beside the road to Shur, (which should have been named Unshur). The angel tells her to go back and submit to Sarai and he promises that God will make her descendants too numerous to count! Suddenly, life is not so bad anymore. Hagar joyfully states the words below.
Genesis 16:13--So she called the Lord who spoke to her: The God Who Sees, for she said, “In this place, have I actually seen the One who sees me?
There’s a great lesson in Hagar’s words. No matter what you are going through, God sees you. He knows your circumstances and He cares. So instead of tripping over self-pity and focusing on what is wrong or perceived as “messed up,” why not praise the One Who sees you and get back to serving Him! Consider the wisdom of Oswald Chambers in My Utmost For His Highest:
"What does it matter if external circumstances are hard? Why should they not be! If we give way to self-pity and indulge in the luxury of misery, we banish God’s riches from our own lives and hinder others from entering into His provision. No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it obliterates God and puts self-interest upon the throne. It opens our mouths to spit out murmurings and our lives become craving spiritual sponges, there is nothing lovely or generous about them."
The labor of self-love is a heavy one indeed. Think for yourself whether much of your sorrow has not arisen from someone speaking slightingly of you. As long as you set yourself up as a little god to which you must be loyal there will be those who will delight to offer affront to your idol. How then can you hope to have inward peace? The heart's fierce effort to protect itself from every slight, to shield its touchy honor from the bad opinion of friend and enemy, will never let the mind have rest.—A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God
The attractiveness of pity and the ugliness of self-pity are unarguable. Yet we live in a society in which self-pity far exceeds pity. The excessively popular genre of literature, the celebrity autobiography, that smothers us in self-pitying subjectivism is the unpleasant evidence that we may be the most self-pitying populace in all of human history. Feeling sorry for yourself has been developed into an art form. The whining and sniveling that wiser generations ridiculed with satire is given best-seller status among us.—Eugene H. Peterson in Earth and Altar
Feeling better has become more important to us than finding God.—Larry Crabb in Finding God
©2005 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)