· A parent accuses you of treating his child unfairly.
· A colleague misinterprets something you said and responds by talking to others, not you.
· Your supervisor criticizes you in front of others.
· Your additional responsibilities take away from your effectiveness in the classroom.
All of these examples (and more) are pretty legitimate reasons for having a good ‘ole pity party. Most educators I know work extremely hard and are committed to doing their very best for kids. When situations arise that question our commitment—or worse yet, our integrity—it is hard not to take it personally. Sometimes we feel beat up, and it wears us out.
I’m not sure I would say pity parties are Biblical, but I do know Moses, Elisha, Naomi, and Jonah all felt a bit sorry for themselves at one point in their lives. I think it is safe to say we are in good company!
I must admit I have had my fair share of pity parties, and I’ve had the blessing of helping others through their own. As a result, I’ve learned a thing or two (cue commercial)! I’m not sure pity parties are completely unavoidable. This world is not our home, and Satan is hard at work. We are all a target. In fact, the Bible is clear that challenges lie ahead for those of us who believe. In the Book of James we read, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy” (James 1:2). Notice, he didn’t say “if troubles come your way.” So, the issue is more about HOW we handle times of trouble which can often lead to pity parties.
I’m not going to tell you that you cannot feel sorry for yourself. However, I do believe we need to make sure and invite God to the party. I would also like to suggest five rhetorical questions we can ask ourselves to help us get to the place of great joy that James speaks about. We don’t have to stay in a place of self-pity and, just maybe, we can avoid pity parties all together!
The next time you are entertaining a pity party, ask yourself the following:
1. Do I believe God knows about my situation?
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.” Jeremiah 1:5
But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his.”
2 Timothy 2:19a
2. Do I believe God hears my prayers?
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.” Jeremiah 29:11-12
3. Do I believe God answers prayer?
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. I John 5:14-15
4. Do I believe God is in control?
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. John 10:27-29
But the Lord is in his holy Temple; the Lord still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth. Psalm 11:4
5. Do I trust God?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. Psalm 37:3-5
I wonder what would happen if the next time you and I were tempted to entertain a pity party, we turned these questions into belief statements.
Lord, I know you know my situation. I know you hear my prayers and will always do what is best for me. God, you are in control and I trust you with all my heart.
I believe our mindset would move away from a place of pity to a place of praise! So long pity party!
Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. Psalm 103:1-2