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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

self pity

And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow.. Jonah 3:10; 4:1-3,5

Several times during the course of my life with the Lord, I’ve been subject to self pity. I found that of all the trials we may experience, this one is more the product of our own flesh than any other. Self pity is a matter of choice, of being so involved with how we feel about circumstances and our concerns about how those circumstances encroach upon us and how things should have been that we lose sight of God’s design. We become so involved in seeing how badly we have been treated by fate or by others or even by God that we are paralyzed by our own self involvement.

Jonah came to my mind immediately when I started thinking of people who felt so sorry for themselves. He had a history of not obeying God and reaping serious consequences but after the consequence he did come around to doing the will of God. Jonah did his job so well that the city was convicted and the king decreed period of mourning. And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. Jonah 3: 10

Jonah’s task was a fabulous success, but instead of rejoicing he went off and felt sorry for himself because his dire threats regarding God’s punishment for their sins had not come to pass. Instead of being happy that the city was saved, he said to God, “I knew You would do something like this! That’s why I went to Tarshish. I knew if I would go to Nineveh and preach all kinds of damnation and then You’d make me look foolish by forgiving them when they repented.” He was so involved with his image as a prophet, that he could not rejoice in the salvation of the city. He was more involved with his self that he was in seeing God’s work accomplished.

Many times in the midst of doing a work for the Lord we complicate the situation immeasurably by being so involved with our own difficulties that we can only sit on the hillside and moan. Life is full of circumstances that are often not easy. But it is very easy for us to begin feeling sorry for our state. Satan will cooperate by heaping trials on us. And our self pity snowballs.

The result of self pity is that our faith is smothered. The more we dwell on our sorry situation and worry about why things are the way they are the less faith we have to exercise. The sadder we are about our circumstances the more useless patience seems to be. The more helpless we tell ourselves we are, the less effective we can be for the Lord. And of course when we have talked ourselves into this state, the happier Satan is. Without his doing much work at all we have destroyed our witness and our effectiveness for God

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