A melancholy spirit crept over me yesterday. It may have been sparked by some of the negative, unloving, and merciless words I read on Facebook (I should’ve known better than to read through the comments on a post about COVID, facemasks, and holiday gathering mandates), but that spark was definitely fanned into flames by thoughts of my friends.
I miss my friends—the ones scattered about the country too far away for a regular visit. Sure, we can talk on the phone or have a video call, but it’s never the same as pulling up a chair at the kitchen table with a cup of hot tea and the anticipation of unhurried fellowship.
Something about the Christmas season magnifies those feelings.
These thoughts were tinder for the fire, but the real fuel that fed the growing sense of sadness was self-pity.
And so the pity party began. Don’t judge. I was fully aware of my selfishness in the moment, but I went there anyway.
Those times together with friends are sweet, filling my life with something my soul longs for. In our friends, we see the image of our Creator, a reflection of Jesus Christ.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26 NKJV).
Time spent in the company of friends gives us a glimpse of the fellowship we will enjoy in heaven with Jesus and all the saints.
“…and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3 NKJV).
One of these dear friends called me. We video chatted while she worked on decorating her house for Christmas. We even toured the manager scene in the front yard. It was good for my soul, but it didn’t really erase the longing to be in her presence. Honestly, I think her kitchen table is anointed. The time spent around it with her and her family always feels blessed, like a holy kiss from God.
Now, don’t tell her but I was actually a bit sadder after we ended the call. This was not your average pity party I was throwing myself.
But God finally said enough is enough. If I wasn’t going to leave the party on my own, He’d yank me out by convicting my heart of what real suffering looks like.
As my husband and I were walking into a department store so I could joylessly (the pity party was still going strong) finish my Christmas shopping, I received a text message notification.
“Will you please remind me that I can do this.”
Those words stopped me in my tracks—literally—much to the annoyance of the other shoppers.
The message was from a friend who has been in complete isolation since the first of the stay-at-home orders in March. Her immune system is compromised by the chemotherapy she is going through as she battles malignant melanoma. She has faced delays in treatment due to COVID protocols closing facilities or limiting patients, as well as her own body bringing complications by a malfunctioning thyroid that had to be addressed before any more chemo could be administered.
Those few words—will you please remind me that I can do this—put a prompt end to my pity party.
Today as think of my friends while I go about decorating, I can’t help but stand in humble amazement at all Jesus did for me— for each of us.
Yes, He willingly died a brutal death on the cross in order to bring our salvation. But before He did that, He willingly stepped down from Heaven, trading His royal robes of perfection for the filthy rags of humanity. In dying on the cross He returned to His glorious home, but first He chose to live and walk among this sinful world. And He did it so that one day we might sit at His kitchen table with a cup of hot tea and the anticipation of unhurried fellowship.
He could have thrown Himself the pity party of all pity parties. He never did. Even in the Garden on the night of His betrayal His anguished words were, “nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42 NKJV).
On our way home last night, we stopped by my friend’s house to leave a bag of things I know she likes—Dr. Pepper and Doritos—along with a bright red poinsettia on her porch. I never see her when I leave things on her porch. For safety reasons, we don’t go in and she doesn’t come out. But somehow, the fellowship I experience just standing on her porch still feels sacred.
And he who desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:27-28).
It occurs to me that the best cure for a pity party is “not my will but Yours be done.”
If I want to have fellowship with Christ, then I need to be Christlike in all that I do. No pity parties, no dwelling on what I don’t have or can’t do. Just searching for the ways I can walk among the hurting, the lonely, the sick, and the down-hearted doing the same things Jesus did when He walked through this broken world two thousand years ago.
Sometimes I will get to look across the kitchen table at the face of a friend. Sometimes I may only see my friend on a small screen in my hand. And sometimes I will simply stand on a porch staring at darkened windows with a bag of chips and soda, and a potted plant in hand, thanking God that He is always there to remind us all that we can do this.
Therefore, if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:1- 4).
What can each of us do to remind someone that--
we can do this?
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