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  • Writer's pictureMaria Whittaker

Battling Self-Pity

Whether I'm struggling to accept God's withholding something I want or His giving me something I don't, I often find the same quiet sin at the root of my struggle: self-pity. It creeps in subtly and sows seeds of bitterness and envy. It turns my focus inward to what I want and how I feel, demanding that I receive what I so obviously deserve. "Why not me? Why not now?" begin to dominate my prayers as I stoke the fire of my self-absorbed pride. Surely I’ve earned the status, recognition, relationship, etc. I’ve convinced myself I need to be fulfilled.

And yet, somehow, I’ve been passed up again. The blessings that others receive burden me, as if their joy was meant to remind me I’ve received less.

I’ve been jipped. I got the short end of the stick, and all that’s left to do is sigh and pout and feel ever so sorry for myself. This, however, can't go on for long because one who has truly tasted and seen how good God is knows that there is no satisfaction, no rest, no joy in anyone or anything but God.

Where, then, can I take this miserable, embittered heart? Where else would I go when "I am all need, and Christ is all sufficiency" (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) but to the cross of Jesus! There, I'm humbled once more by the Suffering Servant who died in the greatest act of self-sacrifice to free me from a self-absorbed life. There, I see that my very best efforts are not ways to earn His favor, but gifts to be given back to Him in praise. There, I’m reminded of how little I have apart from Christ and of the fortune He’s purchased for me by His blood: "The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance" (Ps. 16:5-6). God has already given me the very best in Himself! He is my true portion, He will fill my cup to overflow, and in His presence I have fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Lam. 3:24, Ps. 23:5, Ps. 16:11).

The best answer to my heart's questions is not found in mourning what I don’t have, but in reminding myself of what is already mine: God Himself is the best, most satisfying thing I could ever enjoy, and He never makes a mistake in choosing good for me.

I didn't get less than anyone else. I got so much more than I could ever deserve ! Not because I had something to bring to the table, but because I was clothed in the righteous garments of another when all I had were dirty rags and was seated at the table of a good and gracious King. With this gospel truth in my heart and on my mind, how could I be anything grateful?

Battling self-pity is both an active, conscious guarding of what my heart is worshipping and a chance to flesh out the faith—an opportunity for obedience.

Practically in my life, this looks like a challenge recently posed by one of my church leaders: "Care more about meeting the needs of others than about securing your own rights." Turning outward to fix my eyes on Jesus means I am better able to see the needs of those I was blind to when it was all about me. Resting in his righteousness instead of my own means I am able to forgive, knowing I was forgiven of much. I can afford to love generously, pouring myself out for the sake of another because I am deeply loved by the One who poured Himself out for me.

written by a SPIRITUAL WOMAN contributor.

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