One of my favorite cartoon characters is Pigpen. You know, from Peanuts. Maybe you’re a Charlie Brown fan like I am, but Pigpen is that little fellow you always know when he’s coming. Yeah, he never has to make a lot of noise, because there’s this cloud of dust that precedes him wherever he goes and also follows him wherever he goes. Actually, I know some real people like Pigpen. Now wait, wait! I don’t mean people who haven’t showered for a month, but the dirt they circulate – it’s emotional dirt. It’s called self-pity. Every time they talk it seems like they’re preoccupied with themselves, their needs, their latest problems, the unfair treatment they’ve gotten, their aches and pains. Listen, we all slip into the pit of self-pity once in a while, but some people live there. There’s a great alternative to living in that Pigpen cloud of dust called self-pity.
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Calling Off the Pity Party.”
I’ll tell you, you talk about having an excuse for a pity party, this man had everything going wrong. His name is Joseph. You remember the story in the Bible. Of all 12 sons, Joseph’s Dad treated him with preferential treatment. So his brothers turned against him, left him for dead in a pit. Slave traders came and took him away to Egypt.
But Joseph got a great job there from a powerful man. And the man’s wife tried to make moves on him after that, and he refused to do it. Well, she accused him of having done it, and in her anger she gets him thrown into prison. So, his family is against him, he lost his job for doing the right thing. Now he’s in prison. He doesn’t know for how long he’s going to be there. But here’s what the Bible says about Joseph. It tells us that he knew the secret of how to be in a pit without being in “the pits”; how to be in a pit without having a pity party. And here’s the secret of why Joseph was so unsinkable when everything went wrong and had everything to complain about.
Genesis 40:2-7 – “Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men – the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt – had a dream that same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials, ‘Why are your faces so sad today?'”
Okay, get this: Joseph was walking around this prison, not feeling sorry for himself, which I think justifiably he could have. No, he’s looking for who needs him. He learned to live daily, I think, asking a question like this, even in his prison, “Who needs me here?” There was no time to just focus on how bad his situation was. No, he wanted to help these guys in their situation. And eventually, one of these men that Joseph cared about got him out of that prison.
The very best way to get out of your prison of depression and self-pity is to live each day looking for someone who needs you, not for what you need. Maybe it’s the new kid at school, that friend who’s struggling right now, an excluded person who needs somebody to include them – bring him in, put an arm around them, or that friend who’s out of work, or maybe a lonely older person you know. You might not have to look any farther than your own family to find that someone who needs you today.
But Jesus told us we would find our life; not by looking for it, not by hanging onto it, but by giving it away. Not because you feel like it, you probably don’t. But because Jesus lived like that, and because you know that’s where to find light at the end of your own personal tunnel.
Remember, even when you get home tonight, ask yourself this question, “So, who needs me here right now?”