I had an epiphany the other day. I realized that Jesus didn't attend pity parties when He walked in the flesh on planet earth. It is written numerous places in the gospels that Jesus had compassion, yet never once in His compassion does He hug someone, pat them on the back, listen to their tale of woe, and then leave them to wallow in self-pity.
Me, I've been known to throw myself a good pity party a time or two. As a little girl, when someone hurt my sensitive feelings I'd shut myself in the bathroom and watch myself cry in the mirror! The more pitiful I looked, the more I cried. As an adult, my pity parties are more sophisticated. I may stay in my pajamas and binge watch a favorite show on Netflix or eat something rich and sweet or buy myself something I think I deserve. I do this and all the while I mull over how I've been hurt or wounded, betrayed or disappointed, unnoticed and under appreciated. Wallow, wallow, wallow, sniff, sniff, sniff.
Jesus didn't even attend pity parties for people who had legitimate reasons to throw one, reasons a lot more serious than hurt feelings. In John 5 we find the story of a man who suffered from some sort of crippling disease for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him, the Bible tells us that Jesus saw that he was lying there helpless and that He knew he had been in that condition a long, long time. Jesus didn't respond the way I want people to respond to me when I'm throwing myself a good pity party. He didn't stoop down and hug him, pat him on the back, and say, "Oh you poor thing, tell me how long you've been like this?" and then commiserate with him about how unfairly he'd been treated. What He did was ask him if he wanted to be made well. In the Amplified Bible it says He asked Him if He was really in earnest about getting well. The crippled man responds to Jesus with something that sounds to me like an invitation to join him in his pity party. He explains that he can't get well because no one will help him into the miraculous healing waters of the pool of Bethesda. In fact, he tells Jesus that other people are pushing in before him in order to get into the healing waters themselves. Now surely Jesus could see that life really had been unfair, unkind and cruel to this poor man. But Jesus doesn't placate him one bit. Instead, Jesus simply says, "Get up! Pick up your bed and walk!" When Jesus speaks those words, it isn't with condesension, an air of superiority, or a lack of caring. On the contrary, when Jesus has compassion, He is moved by it to action. When He tells the cripple man to get up, He does it with the accompanying healing power to make it happen.
In Isaiah 60:1, God is saying the same thing to us as He did to the crippled man by the pool of Bethesda. "Arise!" He's telling us to get up. Just as He clearly saw and understood the condition of the crippled man and the length of the time he'd been suffering, He clearly sees the circumstances that has caused our depression and prostration, the thing that makes us want to stay in bed with the covers pulled over our head. He is moved with compassion for us, but He's not going to join us in our pity party, no matter how justified that pity party is. You see, Jesus is an action kind of guy. He's moved with compassion and when we are really in earnest about getting well He expects us to move as well. He's not asking us to do it on our own however, He's speaking the life giving words to us that enable us to do it. "Arise, shine, My glory has risen upon you. Now quit laying there in defeat and get up!"*
*(Dear readers, there is a difference between a pity party and going through a time of genuine mourning and even brokenness after loss or trauma. God's Word is clear that there is a time to mourn. In that same passage in Ecclesiastes 3:3-5 He also says there is a time to heal. Thank God, that He doesn't leave us in our mourning and brokenness, but He helps us to heal. I still have moments of missing my mama something fierce over five years after her death. Being healed doesn't necessarily mean we don't still feel our loss, in my opinion.)