by Charles R. Swindoll
A severe case of ingrown eyeballs strikes all of us every once in a while. In both dramatic and subtle ways, the stubborn enemy of our souls whispers sweet little nothings in our ears. He reminds us of how unappreciated and ill-treated we are . . . how important yet overlooked . . . how gifted yet ignored . . . how capable yet unrecognized . . . how bright yet eclipsed . . . how valuable yet unrewarded.
But the most damaging impact of self-pity is its ultimate end. A frown will replace your smile. A pungent criticism will replace a pleasant, "I understand." Suspicion and resentment will submerge you like a tidal wave, and you will soon discover that this sea of self-pity has brought with it urchins of doubt, despair . . . and even the desire to die.
An exaggeration? If you think so, sit with me awhile beneath the shade of a juniper tree located at 19 First Kings, the address of a prophet named Elijah.
Elijah had just won a great victory over Ahab and his Baal-worshiping pawns. In fact, God stamped His approval upon Elijah in such a way that all Israel knew he was God's mouthpiece. As a result, Jezebel, Ahab's spouse (he was her mouse), declared and predicted Elijah's death within twenty-four hours.
Now, the seasoned prophet had surely been criticized before. But this threat somehow found the chink in his armor.
So Elijah ran for his life. Then, beneath the tree, overwhelmed with self-pity, he said, "I've had enough . . . take away my life. . . . I've worked very hard for the Lord God of the heavens; but the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you and torn down your altars and killed your prophets, and only I am left; and now they are trying to kill me, too" (1 Kings 19:4, 10, TLB).
Yet God didn't rebuke His man, nor strike him dead. He encouraged him to take a rest, enjoy a catered meal or two . . . and get his eyes off himself and his situation so that they might get back on the Lord. God even gave him a close friend, a fella named Elisha, with whom he might share his life and his load.
Feeling sorry for yourself today? Why not try God's remedy: Take a break, stop trying to work things out yourself. And take a long, loving look at your Savior in His Word . . . and then spend some time with a friend. You'll be amazed at the outcome.
Self-pity is the smog that pollutes and obscures the light of the Son.
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.