Difficult seasons are a normal part of the Christian experience, but knowing that doesn’t make those times easier to walk through. The past several months have been a difficult time of transition for me. One of the biggest things I am battling is self-pity. My two favorite sources of wisdom, God’s Word and Elisabeth Elliot, have come to my rescue. First, Scripture:
“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” (Hebrews 6:10-12, NIV)
Here’s a few more:
“Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.” Micah 7:8
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” Hebrews 10:35
“Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.” Psalm 112:4
Deuteronomy 6:23 was a game-changer: “But He brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land that He promised on oath to our forefathers.”
Being “brought out” meant, for the Israelites, a time in the desert; transition is almost always harder than we expect. I feel like I’m wandering in the desert, but it’s not the first time. I actually wrote a list of the darkest times in my life, and I can see that God was faithfully using the pain to bring me out of what was unhealthy and in to Himself. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I can feel hopeful that God is leading me to a good place.
What does Elisabeth Elliot say about self-pity? I read this quote of hers in Lina AbuJamra’s book Resolved: “[Self-pity] is a death that has no resurrection, a sinkhole from which no rescuing hand can drag you because you have chosen to sink.”
When I’m slipping into the self-pity sinkhole, I must choose to step out on to solid ground and refuse to follow the negative, quicksand-like thoughts that suck me down to despair. Sinking is my choice.
Now, in this Christmas season, hope glimmers again in my heart. After all, Jesus came “to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1:79).