Posts Tagged ‘Jonah’

Crippled Lambs

Self-pity may seem to be a very natural and non-threatening emotion, but the spiritual effects can be dramatic.  Indeed, there is perhaps no state of mind more debilitating for a believer.  A love for the Lord certainly doesn’t make us immune to this; as a matter of fact it, is probably one of the most effective tools of the enemy against those who count themselves followers of Christ.

The problem with self-pity is that it keeps us focused on ourselves and bound to our circumstance, which countermands the scriptures exhortation to fix our eyes on Jesus (i.e. the author and finisher of our faith) and to focus on things eternal (2Cor. 4:18).  As we fixate on our condition, it opens the door for both our flesh and the “accuser of the brethren” to assert themselves.  In the spiritual battle that rages for control of our soul, this is no small matter.

Within the scripture we see some examples of how destructive this emotion can be.  As the nation of Israel was liberated from Egypt, the people witnessed a spectacular display of Gods sovereignty, as they were not only freed from, but literally plundered their oppressors.  Yet, a short time later, we hear them wishing for a return to their chains, all because the food and accommodations didn’t meet their expectations.

On a more personal level we see some of the prophets fall prey to this emotion, as Jonah bemoans his situation after finally delivering the message to Nineveh, and with Elijah as he hides from Jezebel.  In both of these cases, they had heard God clearly speak to them, had won great spiritual battles, had witnessed firsthand His miraculous power, and yet their self-pity effectively neutralized their faith, leaving them without hope.

As we focus on our difficulties, the enemy of our souls is quick to exploit those emotions, giving us an exaggerated sense of how bad things are.  When the vine that was providing Jonah shade withered, he said that he would be “better off dead”.  As the Lord queried him as to his anger at this, Jonah said that he was angry enough to die.  As Elijah was hiding from Jezebel, we hear him tell the Lord that he had been rejected and that he was the only one left.  Later, we learn that there were seven thousand who hadn’t forsaken the Lord.

This is the effect that self-pity has on us as well.  It magnifies our struggles beyond reality, and eclipses our view of God’s provision.  The spiritual principle is similar to that of praising the Lord.  As we are praising Him, we are acknowledging what He has done in the past, what He’s doing today, what He’s going to do in the future, acknowledging His influence on our lives, bowing to His will, and submitting to His authority.  As we know, there is great power in those times, and a tangible connection between the spiritual and the natural realm.  Unfortunately, we are doing the exact same thing for our adversary when we indulge in self-pity.

In other portions of scripture we see examples of those who refuse to indulge in self-pity, even when our natural minds tell us that they’d be justified to do so.  It was Job, who in the midst of his miserable situation, uttered one of the most hopeful phrases in all of scripture, “I know my Redeemer lives”.  There was Paul & Silas, unjustly imprisoned, and in chains, praising the Lord in the middle of the night.  And even more powerful is the picture of Jesus; beaten, bloodied, nailed to a cross, and praying that His Father would forgive them, because they didn’t understand what they were doing.  We later see Stephen do the same as he is stoned to death.

These men were being treated unjustly, but they wouldn’t allow themselves to focus on that.  Instead they focused on the Lord, and accomplishing His will in their lives.  We like to justify that we have a right to be offended, sad, angry, bitter…, but the cost of indulging those emotions is ultimately our ability to do the will of the Father.

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