God is not a big fan of pity parties because they serve no useful purpose. Granted, they at times appear to make us feel better; but in reality they keep us down, make it impossible to help others and make a mockery of our supposed faith in God.
My mother was the world champion at throwing pity parties. She had mastered the art of looking and sounding like the most pathetic person on earth who in turn enticed everyone around her into feeling guilty if they did not flood her with pity. For some reason she loved this warped counterfeit of true support and encouragement. She actually manipulated circumstances to get more of it at times.
There is a profound difference between sympathy and pity. Sympathy deals with the ability to understand and share in someone’s feelings, pain or loss. In the Bible, this is referred to as compassion and kindness. Most of us would prefer to call this “empathy” for in so doing we eliminate any aspects of pity.
Pity is a feeling of sadness due to a person’s perceived troubles or problems. The phrase “woe is me” is used to indicate a person who is in distress or is utterly unhappy. The truth is that when a person spends all their time languishing in self pity, they are closing the door on God or His people helping them because they actually enjoy the state they are in.
We all have days or seasons when it seems as though life never lets up and the troubles of this life pile on us. Of course during these times of distress and affliction we are going to feel pressured, burdened and afflicted. But, how we handle tribulation speaks volumes as to whether we are honestly reaching out for help and support or just complaining and looking for a pity party.
I truly hate it when physical, financial or other woes relentless pile on me to the point I succumb to becoming a “negative nelson”. I understand this about myself and must be vigilant to make sure I do not get so oppressed or burdened that I become a reflection of my mom. Deep in my heart I do not want pity but when the pressure of difficult situations builds up, that is exactly what I become. Yuck.
It has always intrigued me to see how God took Job from being a broken man to a man who prayed for his friends and saw God bless him mightily. After chapter upon chapter of banter between Job and his friends, Job and God and God and Job; God had enough and in Job 38:3, out of a whirlwind, God says this to Job:
“Gird up now thy loins like a man; For I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.”
At this point, God told Job to close down his pity party and act like a man. God was a bit peeved with Job and told him to quit acting like a child. Certainly there have been many times in all of our lives (male or female) when God has pulled us up by the collar and told us to “man up” and quit acting like a whimpering baby.
Ultimately, the only way to break out of a “woe is me” mentality is to fight for oneself. Only when we “gird up our loins like a man” and quit wallowing about in the dust of self pity can we once again gain a measure of self respect and be able to fulfill our ministry of helping others.