Elisabeth Elliot said it perfectly. “Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing that has the power to destroy you.”
I have found this to be so true. The root of self pity is pride and thinking we deserve something better. We can never be content when our eyes are fixed purely on a circumstance. Happiness is dependent on a circumstance but joy is dependent in a person. The world will tell you do what makes you happy but God tells us the secret really isn’t in the circumstance at all. “I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13). It all goes back to Jesus himself.
Don’t fix your eyes on the circumstance. The secret is never in the circumstances its in knowing the giver of joy in those circumstances good and hard. And joy has a name….Jesus. Happiness is the worlds substitute for joy and always depends on a circumstance. “You can’t depend on happiness but you can always depend on joy.”(Juanita K.) Joy comes in knowing Jesus and keeping your eyes fixed on him. I have experienced the trauma of self pity, the trauma of taking my eyes off of Jesus and fixing my eyes on fleshly desires. His grace is always greater than our failures. When our hearts fail, He does not. When we are faithless he is still faithful. The Good Shepherd knows his sheep and knows just how to care for us when things are easy and hard.
Jesus says “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yolk is easy and burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30..emphasis mine)
Here we see Jesus saying come, learn, and rest. It’s a daily learning from Christ once we come to him. The believer has already taken Jesus’ yolk upon them and taken off their own. You don’t earn his yolk you receive it. Its all grace. Your own striving stops. Then we learn and its the walking in Christ where rest is found. Once you’ve received his yolk you don’t try to go and do your own work with your own yolk, you learn from Jesus and carrying his. A.W. Tozer says its a 1000 deaths to self this learning to walk in Christ. You see all through the New Testament the Apostle Paul will speak and live out this dying to self daily. If we are wearing his yolk but trying to still wear our own we miss the joy in the obedient walk with Jesus. This is why pride, why self pity, is so devastating. When we try to do things our own way we miss fully the joy and the purpose we’ve been made for.
Hear Jesus’ words, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 What is a disciple? “A learner that is learning how to live in the power of and express outwardly the gospel of grace of Jesus Christ”(Al Henson). Even our humbling ourselves, our learning, is a gift from the Lord that he helps us with. We can’t do anything apart from him. We are always learning daily when we humble ourselves and learn from him.
“And in this knowledge-in knowing Him-we can finally rest.”
“The rest that Jesus offers only comes when we humble ourselves and submit to Him. This is why Jesus uses the image of a yoke, Jesus is calling us to submit to Him as our true master. But this can only happen when we ‘learn of Him’-when we are humbled as he is humble.” (Taken from Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson.)
I go back to the beginning of this post. “Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing that has the power to destroy you”(Elisabeth Elliot). The joy is in the surrendering self and learning and resting in Jesus.
Thankful Gods heart is always greater when I fail,
For more reading:
Camp in Phillipians and Galations in the Bible
A.W. Tozer The Crucified Life
Hannah Anderson Humble Roots
Elisabeth Elliot(anything she writes:))
I’m not a huge fan of devotional readers but this is a great one Keep a Quiet Heart