This is not an easy word. I’d like to leave off the polemics and write smooth things sometimes, but there is too much at stake. If you are a self-centered, stuck-in-the-past professing Christian, this writing will feel more like a merciless death-blow to you than the warm hug of an understanding friend. I encourage you to read it anyway, since the freeing call of Jesus will always be, “Come and die with Me.” We might as well face it head-on.
I spent years in the prison of self-pity going round and round, wanting to be free, but unwilling to do the one thing that would secure my freedom: forget myself.
Nobody understood me, nobody felt the pain I felt, nobody had ever carried burdens like mine, nobody knew what it was like to be me. And after spending countless hours trying to make people feel as miserable as I felt, thinking that would somehow make me feel better, most refused to accept that burden. They would avoid me or humor me or (worst of all) tell me how great I was. This reinforced my love of self and my anger at everyone for not treating me and my pain as if we (“we” like a married couple, my pain and I) were supremely important.
Thankfulness? That was for people who had not suffered like I had. Scripture foretells the darkening of the heart that comes with unthankfulness (Rom. 1:21). If you want to develop futility in your thoughts, and embark on a never-ending downward spiral, just give in to unthankfulness.
Due to psychological humanism infiltrating the Church, which offers self-centered people a million reasons why their misery isn’t their fault, it may come as a total shock that the Savior of the world–who knows the entire depth of depravity and sorrow this world is currently bearing–offers no warm and fuzzy messages like that.
He is never going to confirm your suspicion that you have suffered like no other. Instead, He will say to you, “Come and bear my yoke, and you will find rest.” Or “Come and die, and you will live.”
He is never going to allow you to be the center of your universe. He will demand to take your place at the center, and if you refuse to give up that cherished position, He will refuse to free you from yourself, and you will remain a prisoner forever until your destructions have utterly ruined you. You won’t even leave behind a good name for yourself. You will be to everyone who knew you just another selfish person who never helped anyone else because you refused to see past your own private world. They may say nicer things than that at your funeral, but deep in their hearts they will know the truth, and the truth will make them feel heartsick.
Jesus will never tell you to affirm yourself. He will tell you to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him.
But Jesus, these people are already burdened. Their parents failed them, the schools failed them, their friends stabbed them in the back, their spouses weren’t there for them, they didn’t receive enough affection, their government was ungodly, their churches were full of hypocrites, and their kids don’t care. They don’t need another burden! Surely they don’t need a cross?!
And His answer is faithful and true because He is the faithful and true Witness–
Deny your SELF, take up your cross and follow Me.
Dear friend, I must tell you–you are miserable because you are selfish. You are angry at all these injustices because you consider yourself the most important being in the universe.