The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), January 20
“Self-pity is the response of pride to suffering” (John Piper). Self-pity says, “I deserve better than this.”
Self-pity reeks from Job’s pores as he processes suffering’s deeply painful onset, “My eye will never again see good” (Job 7:7) and sees immediate death, “The eye of him who sees me will see me no more; while your eyes are upon me, I shall no longer be. As the cloud disappears and vanishes away, so he who goes down to the grave does not come up. He shall never return to his house, nor shall his place know him anymore” (7:8-10).
Job’s early response to his suffering reveals a number of truths about the characteristics of self-pity’s response to suffering:
When pain broadsides people’s mental and emotional stability, they often:
- Lose perspective and view their situation as hopeless – “My days . . . are spent without hope” (7:6).
- Feel powerless; therefore, they complain—“Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (7:11).
- Focus totally on their physical condition and restlessly look for comfort—“When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint’” (7:13).
- Entertain irrational fears which cause mental torment—“Then you scare me with dreams and terrify me with visions, so that my soul chooses strangling and death rather than my body” (7:14-15).
- Lose track of time—“And test him every moment? How long?” (7:18-19).
- Become self-centered and unhealthily introspective—“Have I sinned? What have I done to You, O watcher of men? Why have you set me as Your target, so that I am a burden to myself?” (7:20).
- Look for easy answers—“Why then do You not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity?” (7:21).
- Give up—“For now I will lie down in the dust, and You will seek me diligently, but I will no longer be” (7:21).
This scene requires the reader to remind themselves of the following truths at the onset of suffering:
- Nothing has happened to me that hasn’t happened to others.
- Suffering doesn’t mean that God and I are in an adversarial relationship.
- Suffering causes emotional craziness. That’s part of the journey.
- Suffering challenges the mind as well as the physical body
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Job 5:1-7:21):
- How does wrath characterize foolish men? (Job 5:2)
- What does envy do to a person’s soul? (Job 5:2)
- Job speaks rashly as he seeks to reconcile suffering and righteous living. What rash statements does he make about God and about his physical condition?
- What does Job call God in 7:20 and how does this understanding of God drive his complaint?