BY CONTRIBUTING WRITER, JEANNETTE PAULSON
Our youngest daughter has thoroughly enjoyed doing her dishes ever since an audiobook series called “Voices from the Past” came in the mail. This series, read by Victoria Botkin, features five different women from America’s past. The stories are gripping with both humor and heartbreak, but I want to look at what they teach about self-pity, faith and resolution.
Self-pity is resigning ourselves to the difficulties of life without hope of deliverance. Job said, “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” We should expect difficulty. But where can we take refuge in the storm?
Nanny Alderson, who had her dream home burned to the ground by Indians, warns of the danger of self-pity:
I was beginning to feel sorry for myself, the lowest state which a woman’s mind can fall.
Another women, Elinore Stewart, widowed with a young daughter, went west to homestead. She says,
…when we become sorry for ourselves we make our misfortunes harder to bear because we lose courage. We can’t think without bias.
If you could watch yourself as you watch a play, would you like the character you are? Nobody likes a cowardly, sniveling, half-hearted, self-pitying character. Rather, we love a character who rises above his circumstances, is persistent, faithful, hopeful, courageous and energetic. We love a character who does right even when everyone around is doing wrong.
However, if we are full of self-pity, how will we be rescued?
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb.11:1)
We must have faith.
Either all we have is here and now, and then there is a lot to feel sorry about… or there’s the possibility of a glorious afterlife that makes everything today look different.
Only God can give us eyes to see the power, beauty and grace of Christ who can deliver us from the greatest of storms — the wrath of God that we are under because of our sin. Only Christ can remove our sin and secure our eternal rest.
Seeing differently, we act differently. Now we can move from the defeat and hopelessness of self-pity to the hope and purpose of living by faith. In Him we are adopted, empowered and given glorious work. And his compensations for our labors , though mostly delayed, are outrageously generous.
This faith steels our resolve.
Having resolve is having fixed purpose of mind, settled determination.
Puritan Thomas Brooks had that faith that steels resolve:
Your life is short, your duties many, your assistance great and your reward sure; therefore faint not, hold on and hold up, in ways of well-doing, and heaven shall make amends for all.
Eliza Pinckney is another women featured in “Voices from the Past.” She had faith, and it made her energetic and creative in the face of heavy trials. In the absence of her father, while caring for a sick mother, Eliza managed three plantations, developed a highly marketable dye, and planted an oak grove for future ship building. Every morning she would read a list of resolutions she had written. I cannot resist sharing a few excerpts.
She is careful of her doctrine:
I am resolved to believe in God; that he is, and is a rewarder of all that diligently seek him….to believe in him, to fear him and love him with all the powers and faculties of my soul. To keep a steady eye to his commands, and to govern myself in every circumstance of life by the rules of the gospel of Christ…
She purposes not to be anxious:
I am resolved by the Divine will, not to be anxious of doubtful, not to be fearful of any accident or misfortune that may happen to me or mine, not to regard the frowns of the world, but to keep a steady upright conduct before my God, and before man, doing my duty and contented to leave the event to God’s Providence.
She is careful of her heart:
I will not give way to any the least notions of pride haughtiness, ambition, ostentation, or contempt of other. I will not give way to envy, ill will, evil speaking, ingratitude, or uncharitableness in word, in thought, or in deed, or to passion or peevishness, nor to sloth or idleness, but to endeavor after all the contrary virtues, humility,charity, etc, etc, and to be always usefully or innocently employed.
She purposes to be a faithful wife:
To pray for [my husband], to contribute all in my power to the good of his Soul and to the peace and satisfaction of his mind, to be careful of his health, of his interests, of his children, and of his reputation; to do him all the good in my power; and next to my God, to make it my study to please him.
To read the complete list of resolutions, go here.
Seeing the courage of these pioneer women in the middle of crushing hardship make me ashamed of my self-pity. They inspire me to walk by faith and to persevere.
And listening to their stories makes doing dishes much more fun.