The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Posts Tagged ‘pain’

Self-pity Will Destroy You

Posted by israeliteindeed on March 8, 2014

This is not an easy word. I’d like to leave off the polemics and write smooth things sometimes, but there is too much at stake. If you are a self-centered, stuck-in-the-past professing Christian, this writing will feel more like a merciless death-blow to you than the warm hug of an understanding friend. I encourage you to read it anyway, since the freeing call of Jesus will always be, “Come and die with Me.” We might as well face it head-on.

I spent years in the prison of self-pity going round and round, wanting to be free, but unwilling to do the one thing that would secure my freedom: forget myself.

Nobody understood me, nobody felt the pain I felt, nobody had ever carried burdens like mine, nobody knew what it was like to be me. And after spending countless hours trying to make people feel as miserable as I felt, thinking that would somehow make me feel better, most refused to accept that burden. They would avoid me or humor me or (worst of all) tell me how great I was. This reinforced my love of self and my anger at everyone for not treating me and my pain as if we were supremely important.

Thankfulness? That was for people who had not suffered like I had. Scripture foretells the darkening of the heart that comes with unthankfulness (Rom. 1:21). If you want to develop futility in your thoughts, and embark on a never-ending downward spiral, just give in to unthankfulness.

Psychological humanism–which hasn’t truly helped anyone in the world–is infiltrating the Church. It offers self-centered people a million reasons why their misery isn’t their fault (their problems are generally blamed on someone in their past or on demons), tacking on a few token Scriptures to make it sound biblical. However the Savior–who knows the entire depth of depravity and sorrow this world is currently bearing–offers no warm and fuzzy justifications for self-pity.

He is never going to confirm your suspicion that you have suffered like no other. Instead, He will say to you, “Come and bear my yoke, and you will find rest.” Or “Come and die, and you will live.”

He is never going to allow you to be the center of your universe. He will demand to take your place at the center. If you refuse to give up that cherished position, He will refuse to free you from yourself, and you will remain a prisoner forever until your destructions have utterly ruined you. And they will. You won’t even leave behind a good name for yourself. You will be to everyone who knows you just another selfish person who never helped anyone else because you refused to see past your own private world, and this truth will make them heartsick.

Jesus will never tell you to affirm yourself. He will tell you to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him.

But Jesus, these people are already burdened. Their parents failed them, the schools failed them, their friends stabbed them in the back, their spouses weren’t there for them, they didn’t receive enough affection, their government was ungodly, their churches were full of hypocrites, and their kids don’t care. They don’t need another burden! Surely they don’t need a cross?!

And His answer is faithful and true because He is the faithful and true Witness–

Deny your SELF, take up your cross and follow Me.

Dear friend, I must tell you–you are miserable because you are selfish. You are angry at all these injustices because you consider yourself the most important being in the universe. I know that people hurt you. This world is filled with sinful people getting hurt and hurting others, blaming, refusing to take responsibility for their part, and thinking all would be well if only someone else changed.

But Jesus tells each soul that reaches for His help that death to self is the only answer. It doesn’t matter how righteous you think you behaved when everyone else was doing you wrong (we usually have skewed vision when judging such things), embracing the cross is the correct way out of your self-destruction. And it is self-destruction. If you are destroyed, you won’t be able to blame everyone else, because God offers the same way out to everyone without respect of persons.

If anyone deserves to walk in self-pity, it is God. He deserves the worship of every creature, yet they run from Him and worship the most worthless things in His stead. They sell themselves into slavery to harsh, unloving masters, and then they blame Him for their problems. We are not talking the betrayal of a handful of people against us–who have also been sinful, but a sweeping betrayal of the whole world against a perfect God.

His response to this day-after-day back-stabbing?

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

He thought through and put into action a plan to facilitate our freedom from bondage and reinstatement as His dear children. Then He sent messenger after messenger to show us He still wanted us, and to point out the way back. He shed His own blood to redeem us. He sent His Word to heal us. Have you noticed that He did not have a well-deserved pity-party? We would have all perished for sure if He was a selfish God.

And yet, although we have this precious example, and we can learn to love unselfishly because we were first loved unselfishly, most remain unchanged. The cross of Christ means to most professing Christians a nice idea, a ministry, a name for themselves, a way to cure their spouse or a means to increase their finances or earthly stability. Some go so far as to develop a scheme of doctrine they hold to, but that’s as far as they are willing to go. They don’t accept their guilt in view of a suffering God, and sorrow to repentance. They don’t want Him or His cross if it means they might have to suffer with Him. For such, a silver trinket worn around their neck is as much cross as they are willing to bear.

Why? Why is it some people stay stuck? They say they understand the gospel. They say they love Jesus. They say they want deliverance. But they are never delivered. They never emerge from the cocoon able to fly, but are perpetually struggling in the same old webbing year after year. When they see other believers overcoming, they become bitter and conclude that those believers must have had it easier.

I am convinced it is a matter of DYING. They refuse to die with Jesus. They refuse to turn their attention away from them SELVES and what they think they deserve. They refuse to obey the Living Word and take up their crosses (everyone has one) and follow Him. They refuse to forgive others. They refuse to stop being unthankful. Their thoughts become futile, and their foolish hearts are darkened, and they keep saying they want deliverance even as they reject it.

There is only one Way…that is Jesus…and He says you have to humble yourself, die to your self, and carry about with you an instrument of death for the rest of your earthly life. If you can really see the debt you owe God, forgiving others should naturally follow. If it hasn’t, plead with God for eye salve, beloved, lest your blindness destroy you.

Self-pity is sin. Don’t whitewash the truth. This is life or death. It desires to have you, but you must master it. And the only way to do so is through DEATH with Christ to all that you desire. You wound up in that pit of despair through your own lusts that you allowed to lead you (James 1:13-15) . The only way out is humble repentance and acknowledging YOUR wrongdoing, followed by crucifying YOUR flesh so that YOU can live from now on as a servant of God (even if others don’t). The sinful, self-pitying you is not a beautiful wounded thing, worthy to be held up as a trophy of longsuffering for all to admire. The sinful you is wretched and is causing untold harm to everyone around you. It must be crucified and put away from you as an abhorrent thing that you refuse to make provision for or justify. When it tries to resurrect, you promptly cast down imaginations and bring every thought into obedience to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), choosing to be thankful in all circumstances.

It is only after death of self that new life can spring forth. This is the glorious power of the resurrection. This is the practical power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ when taken into good soil and mixed with faith. A self-centered person can voluntarily get on the cross and refuse to live that way any more, descend in total poverty and humility of spirit into a dark grave, and rise again Christ-and-others centered. Self-pity can turn to joy that abounds regardless of an imperfect past, present, or future. This unfathomable miracle is 100% possible through Christ! If your experience with Christ has not been like this, maybe you have not met Him on the cross. Maybe you have been hanging around the cross, but haven’t truly denied yourself and placed its agonizing cross-beams across your own shoulders. Maybe the self-emptying life Jesus led has just been a nice story, but you haven’t determined to follow Him or die trying.

The way up is down. But this way is not easy. It’s easier to point out what others have done than it is to acknowledge what you have been doing. It’s easier to blame than to examine oneself. It’s easier to care about yourself than it is to care about others. It’s easier to find people who will justify your sin than it is to keep doing what is right when no one seems to notice. The cross is hard and it can feel like a nightmare that just isn’t fair sometimes. But fairness would have landed all of us in hell without any chance of redemption. We needed mercy (not fairness), and God in His mercy has provided…THE CROSS.

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Patient Endurance

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 31, 2011

Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.   Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.  Isa. 35:3-4

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. There is a time to warn the wicked, a time to preach and preserve truth, and there is a time to encourage the weak.  Today I’d like to encourage the weak saint who is on the way of holiness, but feels he is burdened almost beyond belief due to the trials he is experiencing.

The saints are called not only to believe on the name of Jesus, but also to suffer for His sake (Phil. 1:29).  We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God; therefore you must continue in the faith no matter what comes (Acts 14:22).  You must not, in the time of temptation, fall away (Luke 8:13).

The day you feel like giving up is a day of temptation. The day you feel bitterness beginning to grow in your heart is a time of temptation.  The day you wonder if the promises of God are true, and you envy the wicked who seem to get by without so much heartache–this is a day of temptation for you.  Satan is seeking to devour you, but the Lord Jesus stands as your advocate with the Father, praying for you.  You must believe the word which is spoken to you, that your God will come with a vengeance and a recompence; He will come and save you. You must be patient in your day of affliction–

Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.  Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.  (Jam. 5:10-11)

Endurance through suffering is needed, that after you have done the will of God while under the squeezing pressure of affliction, you may receive the promise of God (Heb. 10:36).  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all (Psa. 34:19).  Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psa. 30:5).  The heavier the burden feels, the more we need to consider Jesus, who endured such contradiction from sinners against Himself, lest we be wearied and faint in our minds. (Heb. 12:3-4).

Beloved saint, the night may be longer than you expect.  Sometimes the night can last months or even years. Sometimes circumstances so break your heart, you feel you cannot recover. Sometimes the actions of others have such terrible consequences, many of your personal hopes are dashed, and you can barely breathe, let alone “act joyful” or be a strength to others.  It seems like the wind has been kicked out of you.  In these times, you must believe that your God will come and save you. Do not turn your back on Him, heeding the lie of satan that He has forsaken you to be overcome by your circumstances, for He has promised never to leave nor forsake you.  He has been touched with the feeling of our infirmities and was in all points tempted as we are (Heb. 4:15).  He knows what it feels like to be hated and persecuted by even those who claim to love God, to have family look upon Him with scorn, to be misunderstood even by His closest companions, to be back-stabbed by someone close to Him, to be lonely, to be in intense pain physically and emotionally, to feel forsaken by God, and to wish there was another way than the one God laid upon Him. In short, He knows how we feel, and through Him, we can and must overcome all these things.

God is not the self-absorbed King Arthur shut up in His tower untouched by the sorrows of the peasants, but a selfless King who came to suffer with us, to carry our sorrows.  He has walked in our shoes, and He calls us to follow Him through the cross to the joy that awaits on the other side.  So, let us run with patience this race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross (Heb. 12:1-3).  Let us follow Him wherever He goes, trusting in His power, knowing that as we carry about in our bodies the dying (to sin, self-love, etc.) of the Lord Jesus, the life of Jesus is manifested in us to the world (2 Cor. 4:10-11).  We overcome by enduring the dying, trusting the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will raise us also at the right time.

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.   As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools.   They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. (Psa. 84:5-7; NKJV)

Are you a stranger in a strange land (Exo. 2:22)?–Pray this, “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.” (Psa. 39:12)  Remember, you are not a stranger alone, but a stranger with Him. You have gone forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach (Heb. 13:13). Together you must pass through the Valley of Baca–the Way of Weeping–and make it a spring. Those who must come this way after you will be refreshed by your tears;  they are not in vain. Though you feel weak, you will go from strength to strength, yoked to Jesus.  Only believe with Job that after you have been tried in the fire, you will come forth as pure gold to the Father’s glory (Job 23:10).

The power of the Gospel alive in you is this: that even if you are hungry, thirsty, naked, buffeted–even if you have no certain dwelling place and are reviled, persecuted, defamed, and considered the filth of the world–you can bless those who hate you, suffer patiently the abuse heaped on you, and continue to intreat your enemies to come to Jesus (I Cor. 4:11-14).  You can lay even your good dreams on the altar, as Abraham laid Isaac there, trusting that God is able to raise them up again if needed.  You have the treasure of God in an earthen (weak) vessel, so that His power becomes famous–you are troubled on every side but not distressed beyond what you can bear, you are perplexed but not despairing and without hope, you are persecuted but not forsaken, you are cast down but not destroyed. You are being delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that His overcoming life might manifest (2 Cor. 4:8-11).

So again, to the fearful heart, I say, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.  When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven, He will trouble those who are troubling you, and give you rest with the people of God (2 Thess. 1:6-8). You who are poor in spirit, the Kingdom of heaven is yours. You who are mourning, you will be comforted. You meek who turn the other cheek out of love for your Lord, the earth will be yours. You merciful, you will obtain mercy. You lover of peace, you are a child of your Father, the King of Peace.  You who are persecuted for righteousness sake, who are hated for your stand for Jesus and His truth, He knows your name and is even now preparing your reward. Do not turn back in fear or discouragement, but continue in the faith, being patient as the farmer is patient when he waits for fruit to grow.  Your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.  (Isa. 35:10)

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