Ever have a day when you feel like everything and everyone is against you? When you feel like you can do nothing right and the harder you try, the more misunderstood you are?
When I’ve had a day like that, and I’m feeling a little beat up, when I’m struggling to reach for grace . . . I know the right response, but sometimes it takes a bit to get there. Sometimes a good cry feels like the answer.
How about a good cry?
The right response is to release the pain, to let it go. Rather than focusing on my injury, I need to seek to understand and to empathize with the one who threw the punches, knowing that “hurting people hurt others.” I know that I need to “count it all joy” because when I have a right response to trials, it produces endurance.
But if I’m tempted to hold onto the hurt and just have a good cry, it may be that I’ve wallowed in a few self-focused thoughts like:
“She completely misunderstood me . . .”
“Why do I try? Why don’t I just stay home and never go out in public again?”
“If he only knew my heart . . .”
Those thoughts are my signal to pour it all out in prayer. I need to relay to the Father every detail (although He already witnessed it all, knew it was going to happen, and surely has some purpose in allowing it).
Pouring it out to Him provides the sounding board that I need and I can take comfort in the fact that the Father delights for me to come to Him, and be honest about my pain and struggle.
When I’m hurting, God wants to move me past the expression of the pain, and lead me to embrace His perspective.
I need to ask Him to let me see beyond my own pain so I can learn what He knows I need from this encounter.
Questions tumble out of a broken heart, but one that desperately wants to respond in a way that honors Him:
What do You want me to learn from this?
What are my heart issues that need to be dealt with?
How do You want me to bless or serve the one who rebuked me?
How can I glorify You through this?
On those days when self-pity doesn’t give up easily, and keeps rearing its ugly head . . . I determine that I will fixate on this one thought:
Jesus never gave way to self-pity.
Jesus, of all people, had reason for a pity-party. But never once did He give way to self-pity. Never once did He jump to His own defense or expend energy crying over how He was misunderstood, mistreated, or maligned.
He was misunderstood, accused of being demon-possessed, a drunkard and glutton, ridiculed for associating with sinners, and ultimately crucified after a horrific beating. And through it all, he never gave into self-pity. In fact, Jesus viewed His mission of suffering as a joy.
[box]“. . . let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross . . .” (Hebrews 12:1–2)[/box]
Relationships in this fallen world will be filled with misunderstandings, broken promises, hurt feelings, pain, and suffering.
The truth is: I deserve more rebukes than I receive.
My heart may be misunderstood by someone I love and respect, but my less than sanctified heart is also deceitful and wicked. I may have good intentions and honorable motives, but I’m still in need of much growth and refinement and (obviously) I still mess up.
No matter what the conflict is, no matter how mistreated I feel—there is one truth that always gives me the perspective to counter self-pity:
[box]For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin . . . (Hebrews 12:3–4)[/box]
How can I hold onto self-pity when I focus on what Jesus went through for me?
How do I have a right to indulge in a morbid pity party when I think about Jesus shedding blood for me to have victory and deliverance from the sin of self-pity, self-absorption, and self-focus?
As I focus on Jesus, on His work on the cross, on the glorious gospel and my unworthiness to receive His great grace . . . my self-pity evaporates.
His glorious love flowing from the cross overshadows all.
Invite me to your pity-party today and tell me how you counter the temptation to stay there.