Job 24;1,12,22;24-25. "Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know Him look in vain for such days?; The groans of the dying rise from the city, and the souls of the wounded cry out for help. But, God charges no one with wrongdoing; But, God drags away the mighty by His power, though they become established, they have no assurance of life; for a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone; they are brought low and gathered up like all others; they are cut off like heads of grain; if this is not so, who can prove me false and reduce my words to nothing?" H.A.L.T.
Life happens to everyone! What I mean is that there will be times when we experience things that will bring us joy and then there are things that will bring us down. It's all a part of living. None of us can escape this. What we do have at our disposal is the ability to choose how we will react and who we will share our reaction with. Needless to say, there are times when we are at fault for our circumstances and may stress ourselves out by overreacting.
This topic came to mind because a friend of mine was sharing that she was feeling a little "bluesy." That is short for having the "blues," which is the first step to having a full blown pity party. Ask me how I know? I have had several pity parties over the years. Usually, I can tell when I am about to have one, so I recognize the signs. In my opinion, it is not abnormal to feel somewhat out of sorts at times, but when you begin to have a "woe is me" outlook on everything, including those things that are okay, then it is time to examine what is the real cause for the "party." The other thing to determine is whether or not you will allow this party to drag on and for how long. I don't think my friend had given any thought to having control over the length of the party. What really blew her mind was when I told her that she could invite guests to the party. (Unwittingly, she had invited me. Fortunately for her, because of my experience with pity parties, hers ended rather abruptly). You have to know who to invite.
Many of us have said at one time or another, "I wish I had the patience of Job." Be careful what you wish for! You just might get it. Job was patient and long suffering, given the fact that calamity came on him all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere and for no reason that he could think of. He was upright in the eyes of the Lord. He was a man who sacrificed extra just in case his children sinned. Yet, he lost his children, his wealth, and he himself was physically stricken. These are not my words, but if you examine the scriptures (see above and below), Job's patience was wearing thin and hence the beginnings of a pity party. "Make me know my transgressions and my sin. "Why dost thou hide thy face, and count me as thy enemy?" Job 13:23-24. He was in a sense pleading his case (the early stages of a pity party). From what he could see, the wicked did not suffer as much as the righteous (certainly not any less), and he was suffering and did not know why. You can surmise from his discourse that he did not think this was acceptable.
Job did invite some friends, but to his chagrin, they could not understand what was happening to Job and so they blamed him for his condition. The first of the three friends Eliphaz said, "Think now," who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same." (Job 4:7-8). Job's second friend, Bildad, says much the same. "See God will not reject a blameless person nor take the hand of evildoers" (Job 8:20). The third friend, Zophar, repeats the refrain. "If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, do not let wickedness reside in your tents. Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure, and you will not fear...Your life will be brighter than the noonday." (Job 11:14-15,17). To the defense of Job's friends, they meant well, but they did not have a clue. That is why sometimes it is better to be quiet and pray. Even a good friend does not always have the answer. My grandmother used to say, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." Meaning well and doing well are not synonymous.
The truth is that Job was chosen by God (unbeknownst to Job) to go through this trial because he was blameless in God's sight and the Lord knew that he could withstand and come out trusting and honoring God. "At this Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." Job l: 20-21. (Read Job 1: 1-22).
The point is a trial is not easy; life is not without storms, and yes there will be times when we want to feel sorry for ourselves. We may or may not know why we are going through, but I want to ask you to take heart. There is a way out. It may not happen over night, and as the storm wears on, your resolve may weaken, but hold on, it is not the end. It can be the beginning of a tremendous blessing for your faithfulness. Again, refer to Job.
Let's consider some things that will make a pity party less inevitable and/or appealing:
1. H.A.L.T. - This acronym is famous and used often by people in recovery programs. But, it is very useful to control or to check our stress level. In a nutshell, halt means to stop and/or slow down. In our fast paced world, we keep on moving and doing to the point where we reach a stress breaking point. Stress is usually what drives us over the edge and out of control. Don't get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Either or all of the components in this acronym can spell disaster when one is not in a particularly good frame of mind or when there are issues of concern that are real and pressing and we allow them to overwhelm us. You must determine where you are physically and/or emotionally with regard to each of these components and address each. When these basic needs (see the following) are not met, we open ourselves to all kinds of self-destructive thoughts and behaviors.
Hungry - There is more to hunger than just needing food; you may be hungry for companionship, attention, change in environment, better job, spiritual fulfillment, etc. Your job is to figure out what you are hungry for, take care of that need, and not let yourself continue to the point where you are burned out or stressed out. For example, if you are lacking in good nutrition, buy a book and read about it or find a nutritionist. A healthy body supports a healthy mind. Further, you will not find companionship sitting in your living room eating potato chips. You gotta get out there and meet people.
Angry - This, in my opinion, is the most destructive of emotions. "Get angry, but sin not." Ephesians 4:26. Anger will cause you to hurt yourself and someone else (Can anyone say road rage?). The ability to reason rationally is reduced exponentially when one is angry. Anger turned inward can result in may physical ailments. Look at all violence in the world to get an up close view of violence turned outward. Find the source of your anger and deal with it; get professional help if the situation warrants.
Lonely - Loneliness and being alone are not the same. In fact, being alone can be rejuvenating; allowing one time to discover who you are and doing the work on yourself to be the best you can be. However, loneliness is that knawing;empty feeling/space that calls for another person to fill. The fact of the matter is you may not meet another person to fill that space. The goal is to get involved with activities that satisfy the need to be engaged with others like helping those less fortunate, and developing your potential. It allows you to appreciate that you have much to give to others, thereby increasing your circle of community.
Tired - Without proper rest, we can find ourselves in some real dangerous situations. Physical tiredness may be the cause of as many traffic accidents as alcohol consumption. Many people who fall asleep behind the wheel often admit to having sleep deprivation. You are not your sharpest when you have not received enough rest. The easy fix is to get some rest. Of course, there does exist sleeping disorders. But, again there is help. Contact your nearest hospital and find out about clinics for sleep disorders. You can even Google clinics where you can get help. Do not ignore the fact that sufficient daily/nightly (some of us are fortunate to be able to take daily naps) sleep/rest is needed to be at your optimum.
2. Invite a Special Guest to your pity party. In Job's case he had guests, but they made things worse. To Job's defense, he did not know what was going on so I suppose anyone who might have been able to shed some light was welcome. Job's friends did not know what was going on either, so basically they were saying what they thought was right. We all have well meaning people in our lives. Sometimes they do not know what to say, so they say anything. LET'S NOT INVITE THEM!! Invite someone who knows all about you and loves you anyway and has the power to change your circumstances. I shared with my friend that I always invite a special guest to my pity party. My Guest is the one who suffered and died for my sins, who rose again and is coming back again. When I think of His loving sacrifice on my behalf, my pity party is short-lived and I am filled with gratitude that I can call Him when I need Him, and He has all power. Amen. Do you want to know why God did this? Check out John 3:16.
3. Live in Gratitude - "In all things give thanks." 1 Thessalonians 5:28. No matter what is going on in your life, you have something to be thankful for. If you can only think of one thing (you got up this morning), give thanks for that. Being thankful always changes your mood. Job pondered some things; I can only imagine that he was becoming a little weary of his situation. When God responded to Job, He let him know that He, God, was the Creator of all things and that He was in control of all things. Job 38:4. There was nothing that Job had created, not even himself. He was reminded that he was nowhere around when God laid the foundations of the earth. All that Job had been blessed with came from God. Job could only humble himself and reverence the Lord who had blessed him with all of his possessions. Take time to recognize from where your blessings emanate.
4. Remain faithful - Don't give up! You lose hope when you give up. By hanging in there, you stand to gain. Even if you do not gain anything, you are positioning yourself to get back in the game; and who knows where that can lead you. We were never promised that life would be "a bowl of cherries." In fact, we would be wise to enjoy the cherries, but understand that there are pits in them. Even beautiful roses have thorns. "I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." By standing firm in your faith, you show that you trust the Creator, who is in charge of everything, and He is pleased with this. "God blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the former part." Job 42:12.
When you are feeling down, look up! Remember, God has a plan for your life, and it certainly is not to sit around feeling hopeless about things you cannot change. Let God do it! He is the only one capable. Here's to cancelling pity parties and holding gratitude parties!
Note: Thank you to all of you who attended the First Annual In Search of Living Retreat (Unmask The Greatness In You). Your presence made this event a resounding success! To God be the glory! Will share more about this later.
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