I haven’t been feeling well for most of this week; I even thought about taking a “sick day” from blog writing. But really, my pity-party began when I was still feeling well. I had a nice long weekend, last week, and enjoyed spending a few days with my parents. I should have returned from this refreshed, but on Tuesday, I found myself feeling down. I scribbled in my journal about how the term ‘single’ just doesn’t express the loneliness of being an old maid with no prospects. The gloominess deepened when I started feeling physically bad. I knew that my train of thought was off the rails, and I tried to figure out why I was feeling depressed. It is a funny thing trying to figure out what came first, the depression or the self-pity. They feed off of each other and cause a downward spiral of negative thinking. Friday morning’s Spurgeon devotional began, “Tell me where you lost the company of Christ, and I will tell you the most likely place to find Him.” (Morning & Evening by Charles Spurgeon) I guess my brain needed some time to process this because it wasn’t until last night that it really struck me.
In going to my parents’ place last weekend, I got out of my routine. As often happens when I am away from home, I neglected my Bible reading and prayer time. When I returned to my normal work routine, I still wasn’t faithful, as I ought to have been. Distracted by things going on at work and at home, I didn’t discipline myself to use my time in the morning as I should have. It’s no wonder that my perspective was out of whack. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the problem with New Year’s resolutions (New Year, Same Race). Now, it’s time to practice what I preach by working to get myself back on track. Saturday mornings are one of the hardest times for me to settle my mind for time with God, but I found my way to the Scriptures this morning. God blessed me by putting Psalm 31 in today’s reading. No matter how lacking my faithfulness, God, the LORD is always faithful to me.
For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
James 4:7-8b instructs, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” It seems overly simplistic for me to coach myself to say ‘No’ to self-pity. I think these verses in James teach us that it can work as part of three-step approach. We are first submitting ourselves to God and His authority. In obedience we choose to obey Him. Secondly, we must resist the devil. This is where we say ‘No’ to sin and flee from temptation. In the third step, having turned away from temptation and sin, we draw near to God. And when we do that, God comes near to us, ministers to us and helps us to be steadfast.
I have no doubt about the fact that self-pity is sin. Self-pity is kind of pride that tells us that we should have what others do, rather than the lot that God has given us. Self-pity focuses on our own desires for comfort, ease, or whatever else we feel is lacking. Woe is me, my life is not perfect, and I don’t have everything I want. Self-centered thinking allows us to forget that no one has a perfect life. God does not want us to be self-focused; He wants us to humbly “count others more significant than [our]selves.” (Philippians 2:3) Moreover, God desires that we face affliction with joy, as so many New Testament saints example for us, and as Paul, James, and Peter all specifically directed in the Scriptures they penned. As a person who struggles with depression, I have come to see that depression is a self-centered frame of mind. As I have written previously, it is only with the help of medication that I can rationally asses my own thinking (Jesus & Effexor). At the same time, without God, it would be impossible for me to correct my wrong thinking and ungodly perspective. I absolutely need to draw near to Him.
But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Last night, I realized that my thinking was wrong and that, in Spurgeon’s words, I had “lost the company of Christ.” It was my own doing. I makes me think of the movie, Monsters Inc., when the hapless monster, George, comes out of a door with a child’s sock stuck to the fur on his back. The CDA response is swift and thorough. The sock is disintegrated and poor George is shaved, showered, and humiliated in no time. Then they show the Accident Free For counter get reset to 00 Days. That’s where I’m at, zero days. I know there will never be a ‘sin-free’ day. That’s the human condition. But we can have days of drawing near to God and knowing that He is near to us. And if I stray off course tomorrow, then I start again on Monday. This earthly life is filled challenges and temptations, but –
I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.