By Pastor Paul Sheppard
There is no room for stinkin’ thinkin’ in the kingdom of God. He is the God who takes ugly ashes and turns them into beauty and joy. Romans 8:28 does not say God will work all things together for good for “some Christians.” He doesn’t turn everything to good only for the super-spiritual people. This promise is not based on your spiritual maturity or your calling. God does not have favorites. No child of His is “inferior” or “unworthy” of His promises.
All things work together for good for all those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Are you a child of God? If so, then you are in. You qualify. The Lord knows you by name. He knows everything about you. Without questions or qualifications, He is working these difficult situations out for your good in the end.
Notice how Paul resisted the temptation to hold a pity party. Have you ever held a pity party? Things are looking so bad that you begin to nurse that stinkin’ thinkin’. You soak in that hot tub of self-pity. You call up your friends and say, “Might as well come over, cuz I’m fixin’ to have a party.”
“What kind of party?”
Anybody talking about faith is not welcome at a pity party. You don’t want any bright-side-seeing people at a pity party. No, no! When you get into the wrong frame of mind, you want people who can feed your pity. If you see faith folk coming, you say, “Uh uh! They got a scripture for me that I don’t want to hear.”
When you’re soaking in that self-pity, you don’t need righteous folk saying, “The Lord put you on my heart. I woke up this morning and the Spirit of the Lord told me to start praying for you. I’ve been on my knees for you. God wants to give you hope.”
You don’t want any of that when you’re planning to hold a pity party. You don’t need someone trying to make you feel good when you’re doing all you can to feel bad!
There’s nothing worse than the promises of God to wreck a perfectly good pity party.
When you open yourself up to self-pity, you open yourself up to a world of trouble. Why? Because if Pity is invited to the party, he invites all his friends. Pity gets a great big passenger van and drives over to Doubt’s house.
“Get in,” Pity says.
“What’s happening?” Doubt asks.
“We’re having a big party,” says Pity.
So Doubt jumps in the van, and they head over to the home of Loneliness. The lights are all off and it looks like nobody’s there, but they ring the doorbell anyway.
Loneliness pokes his head out, and they invite him to the party. So it’s three of them in the van now, heading over to Depression’s house. When they get there, they have to let themselves in because, as usual, Depression is still in the bed with the covers pulled up over his head.
“Get up,” say Pity, Doubt and Loneliness. “We’re having a big pity party.”
“Well, that sounds like something worth getting up for,” says Depression.
So all four of them pile into the van and drive to the home of the twins, Bitterness and Anger. From inside the house come shouts and screams and sounds of scrabbling and fighting. When the door opens, it’s like releasing a cloud of hornets.
“What are you doing over here? What’s the matter with you? You have no right coming here without an invitation!”
“Pity is having a party,” they are quick to explain. “We all need you to come.”
“Why should we?” yells Anger.
“We never got an invitation the last time you had a party,” says Bitterness.
Nevertheless, they talk Anger and Bitterness into putting their happy hips in the van.
“Don’t forget Fear,” someone calls out.
So they go to pick up Fear. The poor creature is so scared it takes all their coaxing to get him into the van. Then they take off, packed with Pity, Doubt, Loneliness, Depression, Anger, Bitterness and Fear.
When you invite Pity to a party, he brings all his friends. Make no room for self-pity in your life. It will destroy everything good God is trying to nurse in you. It will only prolong the dark season you need to leave behind.
Don’t feed the things that need to starve. Don’t feed your doubts, loneliness, depression, bitterness, anger and fear. Starve self-pity by feeding your faith. Look to God’s Word for encouragement. Look to the wonderful example of Paul.
If anyone has a legitimate cause for self-pity, it would be Paul. He should be cursing the people who torment him, when instead, he is looking to bless whoever he can. With great joy, he tells the Philippian church, “God is up to something great here, and He wants to do the same in your lives.”
Paul shows us how to do exactly the opposite of what you’d expect. When the whole world seems to be turned against you, God says, “Go find somebody else and lift them up.”
That is victorious living! God gives us the strength to strengthen others, just when we think we’re at our weakest. He enables us to exercise our faith muscles and encourage others, while God in turn is renewing our strength in the midst of our struggles.
Follow Paul’s example and be joyful in all circumstances. Don’t wait until your circumstances change. Do it now. Walk by faith. Expect God to show up, and He will.
This is an excerpt from the series “Keeping THE Main Thing the Main Thing” by Pastor Paul Sheppard. You can hear Pastor Paul’s radio show, “Destined For Victory,” weekday mornings at 9 a.m. MST on 94.1 FM or online at www.941thevoice.com. For more information, consult www.PastorPaul.net.