The pit of self.
I walked into my house a couple months after Mom died, unintelligibly exasperated with life. Everything felt hard. Even the rudimentary task of deciding what to eat for dinner felt debilitating. I kicked one of my kids’ toys, causing me to lose my balance and whimper in pain on the floor. The physical pain compared little to the emotional pain. I felt out of control, and I disliked myself for it.
Self-fixation in grief is real and dangerous. I find myself inching too close to it. I feel sorry for myself. I feel mad at myself for feeling sorry for myself. If the enemy can’t make us explode at others, maybe he’ll make us implode…with self-fixation, with self-pity, with self-disgust—all forms of pride.
Why am I in so much pain? Why me? Why this? Why doesn’t anyone care? Shouldn’t they ask me about it? Why does my Christmas have to be so sad? The pit of self runs deep in grief. Be wary of its allure.
We cannot rely on our feelings when everything is going right, and we cannot rely on our feelings when everything is going wrong. Our emotions are only dependable to the extent they align with God’s Word. Otherwise, we must use them to hurl us toward whatever we’re needing to find in God.
Am I feeling self-pity? Let me find joyful longsuffering in the One who suffered under the weight of cosmic darkness.
Am I feeling self-fixation? Let me find self-death in the One who sanctifies me.
Am I feeling self-disgust? Let me find security in the One who was condemned in my place.
It’s certain: our pain matters to God. But His compassions will never beckon us to turn inward; no, that would be a grave disservice. His compassions will always beckon us toward Himself. Anything less cannot sustain the weight of this world and our depravity.
When tempted to turn inward, we must coach ourselves to remember who God is. We must get outside of ourselves by worshipping the One who is bigger than this pain and better than what we want. In suffering, worship is often an act of discipline. After suffering, worship becomes our existence.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV).
Prayer. Lord, you are so much bigger than my self-fixation; turn my eyes upon You!
Application. Today I will list three qualities I love about God.