Even for those who aren’t fans of the World Cup it is hard to escape today’s headlines about last night’s game between Germany and Brazil. In a sport that usually sees low scores a 7-1 outcome means it was painful and embarrassing for one of the teams. The silence we hear is the nation of Brazil trying to absorb the shock.
Once the shock wears off there is bound to be a flurry of explanations and accusations as to what went wrong. My guess is that the players will be harder on themselves than others will be. In such a high level sport your personal performance can come to equal your personal value. Does failure on the pitch mean failure as a person? How will these players work through this loss?
If they are like most people they might feel self-pity at some point. Self-pity is seldom an attractive virtue. After a bad day or a particular set back we feel sorry for ourselves, we feel unloved, and we feel forgotten. “Woe is me” becomes our motto.
Our feelings are important but they shouldn’t control our beliefs or color truth. We need to take seriously what God says about who we are and our value to him. A few years ago someone gave me a little prayer book for all occasions. I came across this prayer for overcoming self-pity and thought it was worth passing on. It was written many years ago and so the language isn’t up to date but the prayer is right on. From time to time we all need to pray this way:
Lord, I know that I am easily hurt and feel myself slighted and passed by as I meet associates at church and at the many social gathering in the community. It seems as though no one cares for me. Therefore I feel sorry for myself and think that I am mistreated and ignored.
Lord, help me to conquer this morbid outlook on life, and create in me a deeper interest in my fellow beings, looking away from myself and seeking to be useful to others. Grant me the grace to be less self-centered and self-conscious. Forgive me my murmurings, and make me cheerful and friendly.
I know I am precious in Thy sight, for Thou hast given Thy Son as a sin offering for me. Thou, O Lord, art thinking of me and of my eternal welfare. Grant that this truth will help me to conquer my self-pity. Let me not continue to bemoan my lot in life. Open my eyes to see that where I am I can serve Thee and be of real service to mankind.
Thou hast called me by name. I am Thine own. May I rejoice daily to know that my name is written in the Book of Life. Let me count my blessings as an heir of salvation. Give me the satisfaction of sharing with others the saving truths of the Cross and telling them of Jesus, the Savior, who sacrificed His life that they, too, might be Thine through all eternity. Amen. (My Prayer Book. Concordia Publishing House. 1957)