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The trap of self-pity

“One man has said that 'hell is being frozen in self-pity.'  Indeed, at times when we think our lot is hard or when we feel ourselves misunderstood, it will be so easy for us to indulge ourselves in feeling some self-pity.  A contrasting episode comes to us out of ancient Greece: several hundred Spartans were holding the pass at Thermopylae, that narrow pass, and the Persians came in overwhelming numbers and urged the Spartans to surrender.  Hoping to intimidate them further, the Persians sent emissaries to the Spartans, saying they had so many archers in their army they could darken the sky with their arrows. The Spartans said, 'So much the better. We shall fight in the shade.'  Now, brothers and sisters, the disciple has to be ready to fight in the shade of circumstance.  One of the ways we can have perspective that will permit us to fight in the shade of circumstances is to read the scriptures and have involvement—intellectually and spiritually—with the case studies in the scriptures of those men and women who have coped, and coped successfully, who have undergone far more than you and I are asked to undergo.  When we understand these models, we may then understand that God is totally serious about his purpose “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man,” that his chief concerns are not real estate and political dominion, but the growth of souls, the celestializing of the souls with whom he works.

I am one of those, for instance, who does not believe the Mormon colonies in Mexico and Canada had much to do in the Lord’s eyes with real estate or physical empire, but I feel rather that these colonies were established for the preparation of a people…I don’t think God’s too interested in real estate.  He owns it all anyway.  He does seem to be incredibly interested in what happens to us individually and will place us in those circumstances where we have the most opportune chances to grow and to carry out our purposes.”







Neal A. Maxwell, “But For a Small Moment” (BYU Devotional, September 1, 1974)

Transcript and recording available at:  http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1022&tid=2

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