In God’s presence is fullness of JOY, but sometimes I get lured into the pit of self pity and this is where my joy in the Lord no longer thrives but slowly dies.
Can you relate?
How do I get out of the pit of self pity? How do I overcome this joy killer of self pity?
Self pity – let’s define it first (from Merriam Webster dictionary online): Feeling sorry for oneself; being depressed about one’s situation. Pity for oneself; especially a self-indulgent dwelling on one’s own sorrows or misfortunes.
Here are a few strategies for breaking out of the self-pity pit and remaining free from falling back in again and again.
First, we break out of the self-pity pit by waiting and not whining.
We must choose to wait and not whine in the presence of the Lord.
Waiting in the presence of the Lord involves trusting God in spite of what we are seeing or experiencing in the natural. Waiting involves believing God with expectancy of promises being fulfilled. Waiting involves trusting God to accomplish His sovereign and good and higher plans for our lives – all in His divine timing. As we wait in the presence of the Lord and from a focused posture on God’s Word, hope is stirred and awakened through faith in our hearts even in the midst of what may look hopeless from a human perspective. Waiting and resting in the peaceful presence of the Lord then strengthens us to continue walking by faith and not by sight.
Actively “waiting on the Lord” does not involve a specific formula, but God’s Word gives us guidance. Waiting on the Lord from a Christian perspective does involve following God, worshiping God, serving God, praying to God, believing God, trusting God, believing His Word, praying His promises, praising His name, surrendering our hearts, seeking to hear and obey His still small voice, resting in His presence, and being led by His Holy Spirit, all while simultaneously waiting with faith and expectancy on a promise to be fulfilled, a prayer to be answered, a door to be opened or closed, provision to be provided, healing to be manifested, or a vision or dream to become a reality. This waiting on the Lord continues throughout our earthly journey until we reach our heavenly home or until Jesus returns, whichever comes first. Waiting on the Lord does not usually imply total inactivity or stillness necessarily, although at times, God’s Spirit will lead us to literally “be still” and to also actually rest physically. Often, the stillness we most need is the calming of our anxious hearts and minds and the clearing of our thoughts from too much clutter and distraction in order to fully experience the Prince of Peace in our waiting.
From my own personal experience, here are a few practical and powerful faith practices that have helped me escape the pity party while waiting on the Lord.
Turn on the worship music.
Music changes the atmosphere. Everyone gets this. When you are down, sad or stuck in the self pity pit, turning on worship music is often the opposite of what your mind is saying to do (another reason our minds have to be renewed by God’s Word and every thought is to be taken captive). Turning on the worship music is absolutely one of the first things that is best to do to overcome self pity. Get your mind on worshiping God and off of your self pitying self. The enemy knows this. Turn the worship music on. Even if you do not join in with the worshiping singers, just being present in the atmosphere of worship may be all that is needed.
Open God’s Word.
Again, the enemy will likely tempt you to turn on something that only entertains your brain but will never have the power to break you out of your pity party.
As you open God’s Word, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. The Holy Spirit is our Comforter, Helper, Guide and Teacher. When you are led to promises that speak specifically to the pain or problem you are experiencing, make note of these verses. Write them down and keep God’s promises in His Word before you. These promises in God’s Word serve as both our shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit against satan’s attempt to lure us back into the pit of self pity, doubt, and despair. Memorize and meditate on the promises God leads you to in His Word.
Speak and pray God’s promises out loud over your situation.
Thank the Lord in advance that He hears and answers the cries of His righteous ones. If you are so overwhelmed or down that you cannot seek out the promises or even pray, call or text a friend to pray with and for you. Just as when someone falls into a physical pit, help is often needed from others to get out.
Get out of the pit with a little help from your faithful friends.
This is how the body of Christ is meant to function as a healthy family.
Secondly, we break out of the self-pity pit by walking and not wallowing.
We must choose to keep walking by faith and not wallowing in a pit full of despair.
As we keep walking by faith, we win out over wallowing around in the pit of despair. Wallowing is sort of like lying down and just completely giving in to the mudiness of the pit like a pig does in the pigpen. The mudpit in our mind is not to become our new home. Do we want to live in a designer home or a despairer home? We are to live in the Master Designer’s home where faith is the foundation, His promises paint the walls of our hearts and minds, and the light of His presence illuminates even the dark and confining closet spaces. Wallowing is like when you are walking outside in a rainstorm and, because your vision is temporarily altered from the storm, you accidentally step right into a mudpit you didn’t see and mud splatters all over your clothes. So, what do you do? Naturally, you change your clothes as soon as you can. Wallowing, however, is when we refuse to take our muddy clothes off. Instead, our mud stained attire becomes our new “go to style” we keep wearing day after day. Walking by faith helps us shake off the muck and the mire of the sometimes miserable and very messy circumstances of our lives. We must remove the stinky suit of self pity and replace it with our new spiritual suit of armor. We must suit up and stir up the fight of faith within our spirits (see Ephesians 6:10-18). We walk by faith when we keep returning to the Word, not only reminding ourselves of God’s good and faithful promises, but declaring them as the final promises that prevail over every pit.
Whining and wallowing in the pit is always easier, because giving into our flesh is the easy and natural thing to do. No faith or spiritual discipline is required to do that. Waiting and walking in the presence of the Lord is the supernatural thing we can do as we exercise our spiritual muscles of faith and the fruit of self-discipline all of us believers have from the Holy Spirit. Waiting and walking in the presence of the Lord is what overcomers choose to do.
Waiting on the Lord, walking by faith and praising God for His great faithfulness always leads to peace, renewed strength, and overcoming self pity with much joyfulness.
Praising God while waiting and walking by faith is something every believer who wants to overcome must become accustomed to practicing.
Praise practice is always in order for those who desire to live out the promise of truly becoming more than a conqueror.
Praising God especially when we do not feel like praising Him breaks off the spirit of self pity and the doldrums of despair.
Self pity cannot remain where the praises of God reign.
In Isaiah 61:3, we are reminded that God has given us a glorious garment of praise. These glorious garments of praise have been designed to bring glory to the Master Designer, while also enabling us to feel the closeness of His mighty and powerful presence.
The Hebrew root for “garment” (‘Atah) shows praise as more than a piece of clothing casually thrown over our shoulders. It literally teaches us “to wrap” or “cover” ourselves — that the garment of praise is to leave no openings through which hostile elements can penetrate. This garment of praise repels and replaces the heavy spirit. This special message of instruction and hope is for those oppressed by fear or doubt. “Put on” this garment. A warm coat from our closet only resists the cold wind when it is “put on.” When distressed, be dressed with praise! Act according to God’s Word.*
The suit of self pity should never be a good fit for the Christ follower. We might give in to trying it on from time to time, but as we keep not only walking with God by faith but praising God continually as a result of our faith, we will be well dressed in our custom fitted attire that takes us higher. These royal garments of praise are perfectly suited for the sons and daughters of the King of kings.
Praising God brings God’s presence.
In the above passages, we clearly see praising God involves shouting and singing and being expressive. Praise is not silent. It requires us to open our mouths and speak or sing, and often involves various musical instruments and movement through the raising and clapping of our hands and even dancing, as we see in Psalms 149 and 150.
Praise – tehillah (te-hil-lah, or in the plural, te-hil-lim); Strong’s #8416: a celebration, a lauding of someone praiseworthy; the praise or exaltation of God; praises, songs of admiration. The noun tehillah comes fro the verb halal, which means “to praise, celebrate, and laud.” The Hebrew title of the Book of Psalms is Tehillim, literally the Book of Praises. The Book of Psalms was actually the Psalter or songbook for worship events in the Temple of Jerusalem. Suitable for prayer or recitation, but especially designed for singing, the Psalms provide the means for eager hearts to express their praises to Israel’s Holy One.*
Praying out loud brings God’s presence.
Proclaiming God’s Word brings God’s presence.
Soaking in self-pity is a joy killer.
Seeking God’s purpose is a joy giver!
Secondly, I break out of the self pity pit by seeking God’s purpose in and through every problem and pain.
We rise above and overcome the enemy’s trap of self pity as we obey God’s Word, His will, and seek to fulfill His good plans and purposes for our lives.
Our joy hero the Apostle Paul exemplifies the joy of seeking God’s purpose in the midst of imprisonment as well as encountering many more hardships and suffering for preaching the good news. Yet, in Philippians 1:12, he states that what has happened to him has perpetrated the furtherance of the gospel and the kingdom of God. Paul, above us all, could have easily soaked in self-pity, but, instead, being filled with the supernatural power of God, he overcame every pit. Paul was powerful, not pitiful. Paul overcame with joy. The same Holy Spirit that empowered Paul and resurrected Jesus from the dead is now alive within us.
As Christians, we must remember we cannot be pitiful and powerful at the same time.
More soaking in the Holy Spirit will bring an overflow of the fruit of joy and the power to overcome joyfully too!
May we soak in God’s presence as we seek to fulfill His purpose. As we do, we will soar like eagles and rise above all the miry muck in the pitiful pit of self pity.
Additional scripture references: Psalm 22:3; 34:1; 46:10; 84:11; 2 Corinthians 5:7; 10:5; 11:23-33; Romans 8:28; 37-39; 12:1-2; Philippians 3:1; 4:4; Jeremiah 29:11-14; Galatians 5:22-23; 6:2; 1 Timothy 6:12; John 14:16-17, 26-27; Isaiah 26:3; 55:8-13;
*Notes from Kingdom Dynamics and Word Wealth, New Spirit Filled Life Bible NLT, Thomas Nelson Publisher