Pity the fool who pities himself

Below is a repost from last year.  But I think it relates well to recent thoughts about identity.

I want to be clear:  I don’t think my status-anxiety will be solved by simple self-denial and a “chin-up” resolve to ignore my aching existential angst.  No, I need to be wooed from my self-preoccupation.  And not by a G-O-D who demands I be as pre-occupied with him as he is.  I am wooed from self by a loving Lord who’s set His affection on me.

When I see Him truly I cannot help but see that He is for me.   Therefore I don’t need to be.  If I properly see Him in His utter self-giving for my sake it doesn’t actually confirm my self-obsession (though you might think it would).  Instead I’m released into His life of other-centredness.  And in that I become the real me.

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Self-pity is, for me, like a low-level virus, a background throb, a sapping sickness.  It heavies my bones and fizzies my blood.

But the other day I gained instant relief.  I was reading Psalm 103 in the King James version.  Verse 13 says:

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him.

Could this be true?  Does the LORD Himself pity me?  Yes.  With fatherly affection and concern.  I provoke the heart-felt pity of the living God.

You might think this would confirm my dreadful indulgence.  After all, heaven seems to agree with my self-obsession.  Actually no.  He pities the fool who pities himself.  In spite of my wallowing, the LORD’s pity is a great ‘nonetheless.’

A father whose child cries only for attention may still choose to pick up the boy, spin him round and kiss him.  He is not caving into the child’s manipulation.  Instead He is loving from his own free grace.  And the boy is weaned from self by the love of another.

In the same way our Father in heaven reaches down in His Son to self-pitying wretches.  And He lifts us up, not to confirm our self-centredness but to replace it.  Now that heaven pities me, I simply have no need.  What could my own self-preoccupation add to the divine pre-occupation of the LORD, who sets His affections on me?

And so this verse brought a tremendous release.  Just as the LORD’s love frees us from self-love, His service frees us from self-service, so His pity frees us from self-pity.

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Posted on by Glen in devotional, pastoral theology

About Glen

I'm a preacher in Eastbourne, married to Emma.

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