Self-Pity: the case of the impotent man



In this edition of our Newsletter, the concept of self-pity is discussed from the fifth chapter of the Gospel of John (Joh 5:1-9). Here, self-pity, as Webster defines it, is an excessive and self-absorbed unhappiness over one’s own troubles or challenges.

Do you want to be made well?

Jesus´ encounter with the lame man by the pool, called in Hebrew as Bethesda, which means the house of mercy, reveals that the man was swimming in self-pity because of his condition. It is read that:

After this, there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time, in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?” (Joh 5:1-6).

The impotent man, answering Jesus, said, he has no one to put him to the pool when it is stirred up by the angels, but when he tries to do so by himself, another overtakes him (Joh 5:7). Instead of providing a straightforward answer, he tells this story to explain why his healing has delayed. He gives this details so that Jesus would have mercy on him. Many people pity themselves so that they could be sympathized with, but it only:

  • Makes their enemies laugh at them
  • Retards their life progress. It makes people backward and demeaning
  • Creates self-destructive cycles of self-sabotage
  • Supplies people with the pleasures of being supported momentarily, to be cared for and emotionally pampered, but it is a known to be dangerous and highly maladaptive way of developing emotional bonds or connections with other people.

The lame man answered, “Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me” (Joh 5:7). Yes, his state of health has made him poor due to his inability to be gainfully employed, and for that matter, it could be said that he had no wife, children, friends, or personal assistant to provide him with the needed support. Notwithstanding, a simple answer was expected of him.

He mentions that while he is going into the pool, another goes down before him. This further tells of how self-pity generates envy and jealousy and makes a person bitter at himself or herself and at others. Self-pity also has the likelihood of making people avoid taking responsibilities of their lives. People could easily resign to fate due to self-pity. They may see themselves so miserable that they fail to act because everyone knows that they are suffering, so they can do anything. It is possible that this man by the pool had stopped trying because it does not matter how hard he tried, another would step before him. No! This is deception, so get over it. Never see yourself as incapable and miserable. Do not stop trying because we fail in our endeavors only when we stop trying.

Self-pity is a clear evidence of faithlessness. The impotent man has lost faith. He has become hopeless and faithless. He no longer expects to be healed by the pool. He has succumbed to failure. He only sleeps and wakes up to see others delivered and healed. But the good thing is that, in his desperation and helplessness, Jesus meets with him. He was waiting for support from human to carry him into the pool when it is stirred, but the Lord had a different plan for him. Jesus said to him, arise, take up your bed, and walk. And immediately the man was healed. He took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the Sabbath (Joh 5:8-9).

Believers need to understand that God does not act in only known ways. He chooses to do things as He deems it fit. No one puts Him in a box and expects Him to work in specific ways. God is alive and His deeds are living. He chooses to ignore traditional ways and do new things for the sake of His name.


You might be expecting help from other people, and you do not know how to get yourself out of your predicaments. All hopes seemed to be gone, and the people who are supposed to help you out are not showing up. But remember that God works in mysterious ways. He will soon work in your favor, in ways that you least expect. Let your hopes stay on God and He would be right there for your sake.

Prayer: Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who is our Provider, our Help and Comforter, we have struggled with our own strengths and have worn ourselves out. We have trusted in men and they have failed us. We have pitied ourselves, but have not received the needed support. Now, Lord God Almighty, be merciful and gracious to us and lift us out of our deplorable conditions and show yourself strong in our lives. In Jesus´ name, we pray. Amen!

Lacking for Lack of Vision: Part 2


Today´s Newsletter is a continuation of the previous one about why believers have been promised God´s daily provision by they lack and remain poor. Here, diligence, self-discipline and faith and how they impact vision and purpose are briefly discussed.


It is often said by many believers, as has been written in the Holy Scriptures, that, “the blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it” (Pro 10:22). This is usually interpreted to mean industriousness is of no value because it is not the “hard work” that people do which brings them prosperity. It is just the blessings of God. Yes, there is some truth in it because hard work does not always produce riches unless the Lord blesses it. It is God who grants the power (i.e. vision, wisdom, energies, among others) to get wealth (Deut 8:18).

However, Prov 10:22 is often misinterpreted. The intended or contextual meaning of this scripture is that the blessings of God have no anxieties, fears, troubles or drawbacks attached to them as the case is with the riches that are ill-gotten without God. The Bible does not condemn diligence. It teaches us to understand that the blessings of God are accompanied by joy and happiness and comfort. Add diligence to your vision and the Lord would lift you up. Believers are advised by the word of God not to be slothful in business, but fervent in spirit as they serve the Lord (Rom 12:11)

Christians are also challenged to be diligent in their duties. The question is, “seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men” (Pro 22:29). Being able to be meaningfully busy at work and not being slothful is the means to prominence. Believers must give attention to minutest details and strive to achieve excellence. Students achieve high grades only through diligence, People of God become successful in their callings through diligence. As a person commits himself/herself to her vision, coupled with diligence, s/he would appear before dignitaries. Remember that the hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute (Pro 12:24). One is likely to perish with his/her vision if s/he fails to be diligent.


Self-discipline is the ability to make oneself do things that should be done (Merriam-Webster). The reverse, which is the ability to restrain oneself from doing what it should not do, is also true. Vision again ought to be accompanied by self-discipline. Having a vision without self-discipline has the propensity to register a failure.  Areas where self-discipline is required, include:

  • The self: Self is an individual´s subjection to his own contemplation or action or identity of a person (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia). For one to achieve his/her purpose in ministry or in secular affairs, self-discipline is a necessary ingredient. Paul writes that he keeps under his body, and brings it into subjection: lest that by any means when he has preached to others, he himself should be a castaway (1Co 9:27). Sin and wickedness have the likelihood of blurring and frustrating one´s vision. Not only this, they also tarnish a person´s self-identity. People who live on purpose also know their worth. They know how much they are valued and do not settle down for mediocrity.
  • Self-betrayal. People who live below their endowed capabilities betray themselves. Self-betrayal is tantamount to suicide. Individuals need to explore what resources are available to them and make maximum use of them. The resources might be meager but still worthwhile to change circumstances if judiciously used.
  • Time. Time is a necessary resource and an opportunity, so persons of vision and purpose need to be discerning seasons in order to act accordingly. Commitment to time is a necessity to progress in life. Disregard to time and punctuality is caused by indiscipline and the cause of people´s poverty. It is said that “time is money”. Time must be seen as an important commodity that could be accessed to change circumstances. You are encouraged to desist from lateness and begin to respect time. Punctuality is righteousness, so believers would be held accountable for the use of their time on earth. Every second of our lives must be used purposefully. Remember that “to every purpose, there is time and judgment” (Ecc 8:6).
  • Personal care: People of vision take good care of themselves. They do not want to die early and leave their dreams behind. This motivates them to have sufficient but not too much rest. They make time out to train and keep their physical bodies fit and strong.

Again, believers lack because they do not exercise faith in Christ. Unbelief makes people fail to take risks. People of God need to tread new grounds with faith. It is God who calls those things which do not exist as though they were (Rom 4:17). In the midst of drought and famine, “Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him” (Gen 26:12).


From the foregoing discussions, it could be said that diligence, self-discipline and acting in faith are key elements required in the lives of people with vision. It is good to have a vision but vision, like faith, on itself produces no results except it is followed by actions.

Prayer: Omniscient God, the giver of visions and purposes, we need your instructions and guidance to live by. Give us the will power, the required strength and teach us the best practices to lead us to our purposes in life. In Jesus´ name. Amen!