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We have God’s attention: Steps out of self-pity, negativity and grumbling

We have God’s attention: Steps out of self-pity, negativity and grumbling

Posted by Andrew Ryland
on 11th April 2021

On Sunday morning 11 April 2021 we looked at three events in Exodus 15, 16 and 17.

We saw that the journey of faith involves repeatedly setting out in response to God's call and promises.

We also saw that difficulties will be encountered, and how we react to those challenges will dictate whether we grow or lose our way.

In the Old and New Testament, the events of Exodus 15, 16 and 17 are used as examples.

For example:

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 1 Cor. 10:6

So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. Hebrews 3:19

There are various missteps they made. Those include grumbling, unbelief and testing God. The whole talk can be heard online. But here are a couple of practical helps provided during the talk.

To escape self-pity

Here are 7 suggestions for how to navigate your way out of self-pity (inspired by Simon Holley, the team leader of the Catalyst Network of Churches):
1) Remind yourself that self-pity is a demonic strategy to discourage and disable you.
2) Feel the pain of the situation and ask for the pity and comfort of the Holy Spirit.
3) Recognise that you can take your thoughts captive – for example, you don’t have to tell yourself lies that it was better in the past!
4) Stop rehearsing the bad. Instead, give thanks for every little blessing you can think of (e.g. the parting of the Red Sea, the ten plagues on Egypt?).
5) Remind yourself that you have God’s attention. You are NOT forgotten by God. And his will really is ‘good, pleasing and perfect’ (Romans 12:2).
6) Set out. Take action to improve even one aspect of your situation.
7) Turn your thoughts to others. God loves them too. They are also hurting.

To escape negativity

How about doing a 40-day negativity fast?
Wendy Mann, who’s coming to preach this autumn, recommends that we choose to take every negative thought captive and choose to declare the goodness of God over our lives and the lives of those around us, for 40 days.

What a negativity fast is not:
1) It is not denying that problems exist
2) It is not 'stuffing things down' that are wrong
3) It is not critical of others who may be struggling
4) It is not irresponsible concerning things that need to be done.

What a negativity fast is:
1) It is determining to focus more on God's promises than on problems
2) It is learning to speak with hope about even the toughest of issues
3) It is becoming 'solution focused' rather than 'problem focused.'
4) It is refraining from giving voice to pessimism, criticism of others, self-criticism and other forms of unbelief
5) It is speaking about problems to the right people in the right way
6) It is replacing negative words and thoughts with positive words and thoughts based on God’s promises.
 

Remember:

Grumbling is the shape that prayer takes when we believe that someone, other than God, is in charge of our life.
Grumbling is the language of self-pity, of those who think they do not have God’s attention.
 

Scripture shows us that we do have God's attention. We should not keep testing him and asking him to prove this. He proved it on the cross. Even when he does not answer our prayers how we hoped, we can be assured we still have his attention. He loves us and is for us.

Meanwhile he invites us to test him in just one way: to set out in obedience to his commands and see what he will do to bring others to salvation. 

All of this is grounded in Christ and what was accomplished on the cross and in the resurrection. From that great intervention by God into human history flows all goodness that we experience. As the Apostle Paul puts it:

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32

Wow!

God's loving rule is currently resisted and hindered. But don't worry. It will not always be so. Keep praying for his kingdom to come and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. One day, when Jesus returns, that prayer will be fully and finally realised. Meanwhile we have need of patience and faith, hope and perseverance.

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