Compassion is a godly trait. Jesus had compassion on the crowds as they flocked around Him, looking for hope. He had compassion on the Samaritan woman whose only son had died. Our God is compassionate and takes pity on us, replacing our filthy garments with robes of righteousness, saving us from our sin. And, if we don't become bitter or hopeless, we sufferers also tend to be very compassionate people, taking pity on those who are in pain. But sometimes, that pity can take a wrong turn, and become self-pity. This is bondage, and we must fight against it. If you read yesterday's blog post here, you know that I stumbled a bit in this area. I'm not proud of that, but this morning the Lord has made some things clear to me about the thinking I entertained that led me there.
It is easy to feel sorry for ourselves when we are aching, or when we are unable to join our friends in their activities. We can feel left out and abandoned. This is how I was feeling yesterday. The key word there, however, is feel. In reality, we have not been left out or abandoned by the Friend who matters most. Though we may feel lonely, we must not give in to that sense of being alone in our pain. The truth is that our God walks with us through everything we do (Joshua 1:9), so we are never truly alone. As I woke this morning and began to read the Psalms, God showed me where I slipped up yesterday: I let my feelings lead me instead of correct thinking.
The other thing He revealed to me today is that He is gifting you and me with a different kind of strength, another area of capability. As we continually pore over the Word of God, seeking hope, help and strength in our pain, He generously gives us what we need. As we boast in our weaknesses, He makes us strong through the joy we experience when another sufferer is encouraged because of what we have learned. The truth is, we have been chosen (Is 48) to suffer for the good of others and the glory of God! Our suffering entitles us to speak into the lives of others who are experiencing all kinds of pain. As a biblical counselor, I often boast to my counselees of my infirmities, sharing with them the faithfulness of God, the comfort He provides, and my own testimony of His goodness to me. This is a blessing!
So, the question we must ask ourselves is this: Am I willing to submit to the Lord's will for me today, simply for the cause of His glory? Am I willing to do the work He has ordained for me, to suffer well for His glory? Will I accept the privilege of being one of those He has chosen to grow through suffering, so that others might benefit from what He is teaching me? Yesterday, my answer to those questions was no. Today, I had to repent of self-pity. As I did that, the Lord gently loosed the bonds of that sin, and showed me the way out of it as He has promised always to do (1 Cor. 10:130). Though that way out was also available yesterday, my stubborn, rebellious heart chose to linger in self-focus and sadness. Today, I am thankful that my God is patient, loving and compassionate! He takes pity on me, so I don't have to.