I had a dream once that I had to work in a barn surrounded by snakes. The snakes didn’t attack you, but wherever you went in this large barn, the snakes were present and in places where you were likely to make contact with them. In this dream I am walking and talking to someone and having to watch for the snakes as I moved through the barn. It required that you be ever watchful and aware of where the snakes were. In our lives…
There is a snake that will kill you.
This snake often goes disguised and unnoticed, yet it has a bite that has the potential to kill the very soul.
One can read about this snake in Numbers 21:4 – 9. The Lord sends snakes as part of his judgment on the hearts of an ungrateful people, who despite the Lord’s provision and care in the dessert, chose to despise this blessing and complain about their circumstances (in other words, feel sorry for themselves.) Now these desert snakes are by their nature well disguised, blending into their surroundings and showing up unexpectedly. Their bites are characterized as being highly venomous and it is a long… slow… painful death!
Self pity is just such a snake! It creeps up into our character without notice – a little bit of feeling sorry for ourselves here, a little complaining there and a general focus on what we do not have, and bam, it’s bitten you.
We often don’t notice an unthankful heart growing inside of us. The problem is that once self pity bites into our soul, our faith, hope and trust in the Lord starts to die a slow and painful death. It dies slowly because we are so busy feeling sorry for ourselves, so busy not looking to God and what He has done for us; we fail to see His provision in our lives. We fail to be grateful.
As self pity grows in us and focusses us on ourselves, it robs us of our hope. Hope is an ability to look beyond my circumstances to the promises God has given me. Then self pity begins to attack our faith, the belief that even though I don’t see it yet, God’s goodness will be revealed in my life. And eventually my trust in the Lord also wanes and I wonder if He loves me at all. Complaining is often just a symptom of that self-pity bite, that slowly settles down in our character and grows an unthankful heart attitude.
Self pity demonstrates an ungrateful heart for God’s current provision and care in our lives.
Now in Numbers, when God judged their complaining hearts he sent poisonous snakes and many died, but in reality these people were living in circumstances where they were surrounded by venomous snakes in a hot and dry desert. All this time, God had protected them from snakes, now that protection was removed to judge their un-thankful hearts. We also live in a world of venomous snakes, where we are given the choice each day to engage in self pity or practice a thankful heart.
When the people realised that they were surrounded by snakes and being bitten, what did they do? They felt sorry for themselves and complained about the snakes to Moses and Aaron. God’s remedy was a bronze snake pole, a way to escape the results of a snake bite (feeling sorry for themselves) and their circumstances (the desert full of snakes). You see, the people had a choice about the way they looked at their lives, they could look at their lives as they perceived them and die, or they could look to the snake pole and live.
We also have a choice about feeling sorry for ourselves, or trusting Jesus.
God always provides a way out of our circumstances, He never allows the tests you face to be greater that the grace and power, He gives you to handle them.
1 Cor 10:13 (Today’s English Version) “God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm, at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it and so provide you with a way out.”
Here was such as escape for the people: complain and die, or look to the snake pole to escape death and be instantly healed. The snake pole is a representation of Jesus on the cross, who has the ability to save us from ourselves and our circumstances.
Instead of complaining about our lives and our circumstances, we need to recognise God’s provision in the desert of our lives and practice thankfulness.
“.. let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Heb 12:1-3
We look up to Jesus as our source of hope, peace, wisdom, strength and courage. Keeping our eyes focused on Jesus, enables us to remember the power that is in Christ, power to heal us in all our daily circumstances, just as the Bronze snake had the power to heal.
By focusing our lives on Christ and practicing thankfulness we are enabled to survive our circumstances.
Don’t allow self pity to crawl into your life and heart. This snake does not recognise God’s provision in all of life’s circumstances.
Father help me to focus my life on You everyday. Help me to start each day remembering your provision and goodness to me. Help me to recognise the snake of self pity when it crawls into my life and starts to poison my heart. I know that each day I choose the attitude I will live by and I declare that I have a thankful heart and will NOT engage in feeling sorry for myself. In Jesus Name.
Thank you,Michelle, for you very insightful article on the dangers of self-pity.
God bless you and your family!!!