Monday, February 1, 2010

The Dangers of Self-Pity

“I loathe my very life;

therefore I will give free rein to my complaint

and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.”

~Job 10:1 (NIV).

Job certainly entered into it and even Elijah did (1 Kings 19), as do we. Self-pity has that distinct anointed flavour of the devil, and him all over our troubled lots, spoiling especially any good we do. The devil’s aim and timing is exquisitely incisive!

Have you ever noticed, like Elijah, those times when you are doing well—that in these times with a hastened irony—comes a surprising self-pity, as that inevitable little stone upsets the passage of the wheels of our progress? We roll over it and come unstuck.

Perhaps the little stone sticks inside the tread of our tyre and with each succeeding roll of the wheel we’re reminded of that pesky stone—we lull ourselves a step closer to self-righteousness as we’re reminded, annoyed, hot-under-the-collar. ‘The world is so unjust!’ we cry out within our hearts, and to anyone who’ll listen.

We’re entering dangerous territory. In our weakness we’re pathetic. Our conniptions bear the resemblance of the spoiled brat we loathed growing up with. Our contemporaries find it despicable to bear us. As I write this I’m suddenly aware of a recent one of my spats. Cringe.

We are always best to remind ourselves, in those confounding moments, we can just as easily turn our thinking around! About face, step; march!

We prove to ourselves that the power of God to sustain us and even grow us through our pitiable challenges—with scant regard to size—is the very power of life, to reconcile, to forgive and absolve; to overcome and to experience peace again—swallowing that feeble, contemptuous torment in one searing gulp.

We have this power, you know. We also have the power of awareness and humility if we grow these traits. God will favour us with insight and wisdom so we can be on our guard for self-pity. We will learn too that during times of great triumph we’re only one loose spiritual moment from a self-pitying fall.

Oh, the grace of God to bear with us!

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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