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June 15, 2010

Poor, Poor Pitiful Me?

by on June 15, 2010. Filed under Christian life / church, Personal


People shouldn’t think that I’m always strong. I know how to rise to the occasion. By the grace of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I get up and do what needs to be done. Just going into the kitchen and sitting on a chair with a small blanket over my knees and my feet up on another chair-that’s hard work for me. (It’s worth doing because I can be with my family during meal time.) But that’s not being strong. Here’s why:

We are taught and reinforced to put on a good face. “Smile!” That’s what we hear before the camera flash no matter what kind of mood we’re really in. Hardly without exception we smile.

There is a difference between “being” and “doing”. We’re trained and we force ourselves to “do strong” things. Some of us wake up at 4:30 in the morning, commute several hours to work, work 10 hours, another two-hour commute to get home, and barely have time for dinner before bedtime just to start the whole process over again. Even if it’s not to that extreme most of us know how to “do” strong things.

To give a personal example, no matter how high my pain level is, I was taught to be “polite.” So if I’m miserable with pain, feeling grumpy, maybe I had an argument with a family member, and you come up to me and ask, “how are you doing?”, I might answer by saying, “fine!” I don’t think that lying like that is really polite.

But the real deal that I want to talk about is to “be strong.” That involves something more than the learned external performance which is, in comparison, easy to do. To be strong is a matter of one’s character and one’s relationship to God. It is developed over one’s lifetime. It is very personal as opposed to what we do externally.

Most of the time, I think, by the grace of God, I am pretty strong. God granted me strong faith, given me much grace, and taught me to depend on him. As a result I am able to be thankful, worship God, and encourage others in their faith. All this is an awesome privilege.

There are those times when I’m feeling particularly weak. I can say with Paul, “to be in heaven is better by far.” I won’t go as far as Job who said, “may the day of my birth perish.” But really it’s the same thing. It’s admitting that I don’t want to be around in this world any longer. And that’s completely selfish, lacking in strength. It’s a pity party.

I don’t get envious of people when they get to do good things. But I am desirous of the good things that they get to do. Maybe that’s a kind of envy.

When I hear about somebody who went on a hike in the mountains I long for that joy. When I hear somebody playing guitar as I used to I can become very melancholy missing that joy. When I realize I failed to be a good dad because of my physical constraints and pain I grieve not only for my children but for myself. I have a pity party.

Pity parties occur when I am weak. It does, eventually, caused me to turn to God for my strength. My life is redeemed from the pit. (Maybe pity parties are what you do when you are in a pit. haha) He crowns me with love and compassion. (Psalm 103:4) “I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13:5-6)

I’m not strong. But God is awesome. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trust in him, and I am helped.” (Psalm 28:7)

My comfort is that when I’m feeling weak I can call upon God who is always strong. Thankfully my pity parties do not last very long. The Lord is my strength. Please pray for me. We all need to pray for one another!

Alive in Christ,

All journal entries are copyright by Ed Rodatus - all rights reserved.
(Except the entries in the "joni" category. All the "joni" posts are from the Joni and Friends daily email devotional.)

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