"When all these things begin to happen, stand and look UP, for your salvation is near!"
- Luke 21:28 NLT
The Lord taught me some valuable lessons on pain and suffering recently which helped me to gain a more godly perspective on them. He warned me not to turn inward to self-pity, or outward to anger--but to turn upward to God.
A good definition of self-pity is: "A self-indulgent dwelling on one's own sorrows or misfortunes." Anything that causes us to focus too much on ourselves is a detriment to our health and well-being. It’s also destructive to our relationships. It doesn’t bring us closer to others; it actually drives them away. It doesn’t help us to heal, but it keeps us bleeding. Self-pity is actually a form of pride. It causes us to get our eyes off of God, and onto ourselves. We may initially like the attention it gets us from others, but eventually, it will cause them to turn away from us. An effective antidote for self-pity is thankfulness. Scripture says: "Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP) No matter what is going on in our lives, we always have reason to give thanks to God and praise Him. It’s an insult to the Lord when we dwell on our misfortunes and losses, and we neglect to recognize and dwell on all of the blessings He showers us with daily. Turning inward to self-pity is definitely not God’s will for us when we experience times of difficulty and pain.
Turning outward to anger or revenge isn’t God’s will for us, either. It can be tempting to get mad at God or others when we’re faced with painful circumstances. It’s so easy to play the “blame game” when we’re hurting. But that’s not God’s way. Jesus told His disciples: “You’re looking for someone to blame… Look instead for what God can do.” (John 9:3 MSG) When we’re in a painful place, we need God’s help more than ever. But we’re not likely to get it if we’re not treating people right. In every situation we face, God’s got a plan for our victory. But we have to cooperate with His plan, and do things His way, if we want to receive His highest and best. Scripture says: "Don't let your suffering embitter you at the only one who can deliver you." (Job 36:18 TLB) How foolish it is to get mad at God when things don’t go our way, since He is the only One who is able to offer us any real and lasting help.
And that’s why the Lord tells us that instead of looking inward our outward in times of trouble, we should look UPward to Him. The Bible says: "God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear…" (Psalm 46:1 NLT) Those of us who have made Christ our Savior and Lord have a God who is always approachable, available, and responsive to our needs. He is “always ready” to provide us with His wisdom (James 1:5), His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9), and His comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ). All we have to do is ask. I’ve discovered that one of the best things we can do in difficult times is to release our hurt and heartache to God, and to tell Him: “Lord, I’m planting my trouble and pain as a seed, and I’m trusting You to grant me an abundant harvest of blessings and rewards in return.” God loves to cause our problems to profit us somehow. (Romans 8:28) Even when we are suffering the consequences of our own stubborn disobedience, He is there to help us all along the way, and to make sure we gain some benefit from our misery. When Jesus spoke to His disciples about a time of great tribulation that would someday come upon the earth, He said: “When all these things begin to happen, stand and look UP, for your salvation is near!” (Luke 21:28 NLT) Are you looking UP today?
Prayer: Lord, when trouble comes my way, help me to resist feeling sorry for myself, or blaming others for my problems. Remind me that if my focus is on myself or others--instead of You--I will only be intensifying and prolonging my misery. Thank You that as I keep my eyes on You, and follow Your lead, I will experience the supernatural peace and power that can only come from Christ!
- J. M. Farro