There is no end to the discouragement we can find if we look at ourselves long enough. Self-pity is a bottomless pit when we make our lives about ourselves.
Consider the ancient prophet Elijah. In 1 Kings 18, he was witness to an awesome display of God’s power. He saw the prophets of Baal defeated on Mount Carmel. He watched the people rise up and seize the priests of the false gods.
Leaving that place, though, Elijah got word that the evil Jezebel intended to kill him. She, after all, was a cheerleader for Baal. So, it’s easy to see why she was mad.
What is less easy to see is Elijah’s response. Scripture describes Elijah as being afraid and scurrying off into the wilderness. He tossed himself into a pit of despair, believing himself to be alone.
Elijah sat under a brush and prayed that God would kill him. Instead, an angel told him to go to Horeb, also known as Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments.
He had to be convinced by an angel to get on his way, but he finally went. There, Elijah complained that there were no other men of God in Israel.
“I am the only one left, and now [the people] are trying to kill me too.”
Hogwash! He had just seen God defeat Baal and watched the people rise up against the false prophets. By focusing on himself, Elijah managed to turn God’s victory into his own defeat.
And so God gave Elijah something to do and to think about. Elijah was told to go and anoint a couple of kings and appoint a successor prophet. More importantly, God addressed the “woe is me, I am all alone” nonsense.
God told Elijah that there were 7,000 men in Israel who had not worshipped Baal. Elijah was never alone.
The same goes for us. We just have to be willing to look beyond ourselves. Rather than star as the martyrs in our self-devised tale of woe, we should actively look for allies in the redemptive story that God is working out in our lives.
To borrow from St. Paul, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Whatever else might be true, we are never alone.