How pleasant it is to curl up in a bed or an armchair and have a proper dose of self-pity, remembering all the bad that has ever happened to us, all the injustice that we have suffered. Everybody must understand that the cause of our not very nice behaviour is our pain. They should show us sympathy, understanding and compassion. Even God must understand how severe blow or injustice has befallen us...

   Certainly. God understands us. He knows every thought of us and knows about everything that has ever happened to us. However, it does not mean that he approves of our wallowing in self-pity.

   Every person has times in their life when self-pity prevails. I remember a deterrent situation in my life, which I want to share with you so that you would see the power of self-pity.

   After a break-up of a relationship of mine I let myself be overcome by sorrow, pain and also self-pity. For three months I almost didn’t sleep, another three months I slept very little. I don’t remember how long after the breakup it happened but one evening I curled up in my bed and started pitying myself round and round. I repeated to myself what a miserable I was, what had happened to me, how it had wounded me, how it hurt etc. I remember it took about two hours. Sincerely, after the two hours of self-pity I was in such a state that if I had had a gun on me I would have probably shot myself dead.

   So, it is my personal experience with self-pity. No help or solution, rather, even a deeper fall! Of course, thank to self-pity we stand high in our own eyes for a while and this is something that makes us feel good (this is why we make room for self-pity). Indeed, we are those who have been hurt – the bad guys are the others.

   I’ll be straight with you: By indulging in self-pity we are committing several evils simultaneously! Self-pity can do us only harm.

   Probably the worst is the fact that we put ourselves and our pain to the first place in our lives at that moment (however, the first place should always belong to God!). Another big problem is that we rely on ourselves and the people around us (help in the form of self-pity and accepting pity from others) instead of relying on God’s help (notwithstanding how hard we try to make up excuses).

   As I have mentioned above, self-pity is a transgression of the first commandment: to give God the first place, to love him with all our strength, all our soul and all our heart. As long as we are overwhelmed by self-pity, we ourselves are the centre of our universe. Nobody and nothing is more important to us than we ourselves and our pain. If I knew the circumstances that got you to self-pity, I would probably pity you. Nevertheless, I would also bring the fact to your notice that self-pity offers no solution, on the contrary, it prevents you from experiencing God’s help. And I might also say to you that by indulging in self-pity, which amounts to relying on ourselves and others around us, we come under God’s curse!

Jeremiah 17, 5-6: Thus saith Jehovah: Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from Jehovah. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, a salt land and not inhabited.


   It is serious and it does not relate only to self pity, rather, to relying on human resources generally, whether on our own abilities (power, intelligence, memory, beauty, might, will,…) or any help from others. Can you see? God mentions here a state similar to the heath in the desert which does not see when good comes. It does not mean that all good things have come to an end, rather, that nobody of those who rely on human resources (including their own) will enjoy them. Relying on one’s own resources is very unwise, which has been well put in the parable about cisterns:

Jeremiah 2, 13: For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

   To put it simply, if we want to wallow in self-pity, then we surely can, nevertheless, we won’t find any help in it. It is necessary to resist self-pity and renew our trust in God and his help! Let’s look at the difference between relying on ourselves (or any other person) and relying on God. It is a matter of choice between God’s blessing and God’s curse! As I have mentioned the curse before, let’s look at the “effect” of trusting in God:

Jeremiah 17, 7-8: Blessed is the man that trusteth in Jehovah, and whose trust Jehovah is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, that spreadeth out its roots by the river, and shall not fear when heat cometh, but its leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit..

   Seeing God’s offer of the blessing and the curse, I opt for the blessing if you please. I like very much the attitude of the apostle Paul:

Philippians 3, 13-14: Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

   Paul had, as anyone of us, good reason to self-pity. Nevertheless, he came to understand that neither remorse (e.g. because he had persecuted the living church) nor self-pity (perhaps of being persecuted, whipped, stoned, jailed, often going hungry etc.) offer any solution. He decided to reject consciously these attitudes, focusing fully on God and whatever lied in front of him.

   In fact, it doesn’t mater what is the reason for self-pity (it even doesn’t need to have any real foundation). There are among the typical reasons bodily handicap or illness, rejection, break-up of a relationship, non-admission to a school, unjust beating – or any unjust affliction, poor or no appreciation of our effort, unsatisfactory bodily appearance, “limited” mental abilities, job loss, bereavement etc. It is necessary to realize that self-pity is a sign of mistrust to God. So, when you find yourselves in a hard situation, try to make the right decision! Choose by yourselves (wisely, if possible) between the blessing and the curse.


Libor Diviš - author of this article and this website

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