I have been known to throw one fabulous pity party. I have been so good, in fact, that at times I have not even been conscious that I was the one blowing up the balloons or attaching the streamers. Even when the guest list consists of only me, and I have delivered myself an invitation with my name scrawled in distinguished calligraphy with no plus one needed or even desired, I have been known to stack layer upon layer of sweet confection in grand design, waiting for the chance to plop down in a most elegant frock, golden fork in hand, to consume it all in magnificent misery.
Have you been there, Friend? Have you ever felt so sorry for yourself that the mere act of getting up felt impossibly heavy or unbearable? Have you ever felt so lost that you wondered if you would ever feel whole or connected or valued again? Have you ever questioned if you were ever truly loved at all?
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10: 5, NIV)
For me, I am on hyper alert for the sudden, tremendous blow. Usually, such quick, powerful attacks are so contrary to my “normal” that I see them immediately for the spiritual warfare that they are, and I run straight to the Word of God to fortify me. But the slow drip of devastation, the gradual erosion to my psyche, the compounding of microscopic insults–these sneakily slither into my consciousness, a worming melancholia, that when I finally take notice, I am so far from center that I am done. Cue the pity party music!
Satan loves a pity party. Even when you think you are all alone on the dance floor, swaying and crying, Satan is there at the DJ booth with rhythmic fist-pumping, chanting, “Go Marilyn! Go Marilyn!” As you sit shoveling fork full after fork full of cake down your throat, Satan is there, your ever attentive waiter, lining up the next plate. He revels in this detour, and the longer he can distract you, the longer it can last, and the less time you will reflect on the awesomeness of God.
You see, Friend, Satan wants us to worry about ourselves. He wants us to erect an idol that looks like us and talks like us because that necessarily means that we cannot or refuse to see God. The more we pity ourselves, the less we glory in God, and the surest way to get out of our own heads is to get into the Word of God.
Paul tells us in his letter to the church at Ephesus that God “chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Ephesians 1: 4, NIV). What comfort such a truth brings! God has always known us, the type of people we would be, the sins we would commit, yet He chose us anyway! And not only that, but He chooses for us to be holy and blameless in His sight! Why should we stay at the pity party if God decided before time began for us to be His chosen ones?
But why, you may question, would God pick us? I mean, surely He knows how wretched and base and awful we are. “In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1: 4-5, NIV). First of all, He loves us! We can all quote John 3: 16, so we know that His love is the basis of His gift of Jesus, which allows for a deeper, more intimate relationship with God in addition to our salvation and personal transformation. We also, though, see that God delights in choosing us (i.e., “in accordance with his pleasure”). He enjoys it. In my mind, I see God smiling as He calls my name, not because I am so good, but because He has another chance to display His goodness in the choosing of me. Finally, it is simply His will. I hear Bobby Brown’s chorus to “My Prerogative” and God breaking through with His “I can do what I want to do!” Of all the infinite things that God could do, of all the people He could choose to adopt, the fact that my name even makes the list at all is an immeasurable blessing!
Ephesians 1: 6-8 reminds us that God’s grace, freely given through the blood of Jesus, redeems us, and that we ought to be in perpetual praise! Self-pity and praise cannot coexist, Friend! The one necessarily negates the other. Our God, the only one who is good (Luke 18: 19), looks at us in love, delights in a relationship with us, and chooses us, simply because He desires to do so. He does not ask for our permission or demand our worthiness. Instead, He freely gives.
So it is time to leave the pity party. We have to get up and go. For we have been “predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1: 11, NIV), and we have work to do as the body of Christ. We have been called, not because He needs us, but because He wants us. To be aligned to His will and forever united in kinship with Him is a blessing! Let’s stop ignoring that. Let’s stop diminishing our God and maximizing ourselves.
“I was dancing before the Lord who chose me…so, I celebrate before the Lord.” (2 Samuel 6: 21, NLT)