Here is another amazing excerpt from Joni Eareckson Tada's book, Glorious Intruder. I pray that it may challenge you today as much as it challenged me!
...There is an innocent-looking trap awaiting each person who suffers. The trap isn't a body of water. It's an attitude. The temptation to compare yourselves with others who seem to have it easier than you.
Take a few dives into this destructive frame of mind, and you're liable to end up paralyzed - by self-pity. Haunted by a bitter, restless spirit. Robbed of hope, contentment, and joy.I'm not sure what was worse during the early years of my life in a wheelchair, the paralysis of my body or the paralyzing effects of my self-pity. I couldn't even visit a shopping mall because all I could do was ot compare myself with the young women walking by...Even watching my best friends model an outfit for me made my face flush with envy.
Back then, I never considered such self-pity to be the terrible offense to God that it actually is. In view of my circumstances, I figured God would 'understand' a little self-indulgence.That assumption changed when I encountered a story in John, chapter 21.Jesus had just told Peter to expect a martyr's death years in the future. That was hard enough for the apostle to swallow, but what made it even harder was Jesus' silence about John. Even though John was standing there listening to it all, Jesus never spoke a word about the fate awaiting him. Peter sized up the situation and judged that John was getting the better deal.Wait a minute, here! Peter probably thought. Wasn't John the one who got to sit next to Jesus at the supper? Wasn't John the one who seemed especially buddy-buddy with the Master? And now is Christ really about to let John off with an easy out on some sunny Mediterranian isle?It was too much for Peter to keep inside. 'What about him?' he blurted, pointing to John.The Lord's answer must have shocked Peter. He might have been expecting some kind of reassurance. Something like, 'Don't worry, Peter. I'll be with you through whatever. Everything's going to be all right.'Instead, Jesus delivered a stern rebuke. He allowed no room for indulgence. . . no temporary luxuary of a 'poor me' attitude.'Look', He said in essence, 'If it's My will that John lives until I come again, what's that to you? What I have planned for John is none of your business.'Rather harsh words for Jesus to use with a man facing martyrdom, wouldn't you think? Was the Lord right in being so stern? Didn't Peter, arguing for 'equal rights' have good reason to doubt the goodness of God's plan?That passage taught me a lesson as I weighed its implications. Jesus will deal harshly with self-pity because He knows it only magnifies a man or woman's misery. Comparing my situation with others and demanding euqal rights is no better than doubting the goodness of God's plan for me - and ultimately, the goodness of God Himself.Are you paralyzed? Maybe not in body, but in attitude? You don't have to choose the murky, hazardous waters of self-pity. Let me post a sign that might save your life for His service: DANGER! DON'T DIVE HERE!
I know that I, for one, am so, so guilty of indulging in self-pity when going through a difficult time. But let me encourage you (and myself!) to remember that the Lord has His hand in what is going on, and that He wants us to be more focussed on serving Him and using the trials He has given us for His glory than wasting them complaining and comparing ourselves to others. Help me Father, and anyone else who struggles with this, I pray!!!