Self-pity is a slippery slope. Once we start down the rabbit hole of misery, self-pity, or a woe-is-me attitude, we end up at the bottom of a depression-filled well that is near impossible to escape from. This type of thinking is prideful and idolatrous. It’s putting our so-called suffering on a pedestal and worshipping it. We are all guilty of this behavior.
Thankfully, that’s what it is: behavior, and behavior can be corrected. Better to correct yourself, though, before you have to be corrected. Correcting this behavior of self-pity can be done one Way: through Jesus/the Word.
“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:31b-32
This is the truth (Rx: Personalize these statements/verses at the first sign of self-pity):
- I am not alone: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…” Isaiah 43:2a
- I am known: “You know when I sit down and when I rise up…” Psalm 139:2a, “…In your book were written every one of the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:16, “But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” Matthew 10:30
- I am cared for: “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:17-18
- I can overcome: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
- My days of sorrow WILL be redeemed: “My times are in your hands…” Psalm 31:15a, “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,… to comfort all who mourn…to bestow on them [who grieve] a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:1-3 (excerpts)
Let these truths settle in your heart and set you free. While you’re at it, read all of John 17 – It’s Jesus praying for us. You don’t have to wallow in self-pity, sit in sorrow or despair, or give in to depression. His love can permeate the dark places in your soul and free you from it all. But He will only free you if you let Him. He’s a gentleman; He won’t come save you if you don’t really want Him to. Sometimes it seems easier to give in to our feelings. It’s strange, but it feels “good” to feel bad. We get attention and we get to make excuses for our behavior.
But what would happen if we didn’t give voice to our self-pity? What if we choked it out with praise? What would happen if we thanked God for whatever it is we are woeful about and gave Him praise for someday manifesting His redemption of whatever it is we are dealing with today?
“Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones, praise is becoming to the upright.”Psalm 33:1
If we are Christians, our hope is in Christ and His redemption of all things. It is unbecoming of a Christian to indulge in self-pity, misery, anxiety, depression, or fear. These are real problems, but they are real problems that can be overcome with the Truth. Praise is becoming to the upright. Those who have been saved, who are hoping in the redemption of Christ (and this hope does not disappoint…), have troubles but they are nothing compared to the promise we will receive if we endure.
When I was in high school, I didn’t get invited to the prom (I know…boohoo). It was a big deal to me and my mother knew it. But she gave me a gift and a note that said, “Someday you’ll meet a man who will make not going to the prom a hill of beans.” The other day I was beginning to indulge in self-pity and the Lord reminded me of that moment. He put it in different words: Someday, I will redeem this day and you will remember it as nothing more than a hill of beans.”
In other words, someday our present suffering will be redeemed (on earth or in heaven), and we will remember it only to praise Him for what He has done to redeem it. If you are in a season of frustration or depression, anxiety, or self-pity are rising up in you, begin to praise Him for the future. Praise Him for what He promised in His Word to do.
Prayer: God, I praise You for the work on the cross which makes it possible for my present sorrow to be redeemed someday. I thank You that You are close at hand when I am in pain, and offer the Comforter to help me in my time of need. I praise You for the future which will make this current pain nothing more than a hill of beans. You are awesome and worthy of all praise. I submit to You and give you my self-pity, anguish, depression, anxiety, fear, and doubt. Redeem them, too, Lord. I praise You for You have set me free from all of it. Please forgive me for giving in to them, for idolizing them, and for pushing You away so I could feel how I wanted to feel. I love You and thank You for being so good to me, past, present, and future. In Jesus’s name, Amen.