Everyone has a sad story…really. As a boy, when I, or one of my siblings would complain about some situation, I can remember my mother saying, “Aw, poor pitiful Pearl.” Poor Pitiful Pearl was a doll (see above), first marketed in 1958. (My wife said that when she was a little girl she always wanted a Poor Pitiful Pearl doll.) At my house (and I think in many others), Poor Pitiful Pearl became a metaphor for anyone with a sad story that they used as an excuse for not doing whatever they were supposed to be doing.

While there are many genuine sad stories, the real issue, in the end, is about our response to the sad story. A self-pity party is how many respond, which if nursed becomes bitterness. Self-indulgence [sin] is then justified by the victim of such circumstances. Yet for every five “Poor Pitiful Pearls,” there’s someone with a similar (if not worse) story, who responds differently. (My daughter had a doll she named “Happy.”) Instead of becoming victims, they become victors. They triumph over adversity, and rather than indulging themselves with sinful responses, they rise above the circumstances and overcome them.

We can’t avoid hard things in this fallen world. There is much injustice and abuse. We have been and will be mistreated. It’s natural for us to feel sorry for ourselves and to see ourselves as victims. But the Bible calls us to a supernatural response to our sad stories. It instructs us to “turn the other cheek” (Matt. 5:39); to “bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Rom. 12:14); to “not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing” (1 Peter 3:9). The Word of God insists that we “count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2). Moreover, the biblical response to our sad stories is to be one of trusting God, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Our response to other people’s sins must not be to commit our own sins. “In due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9). Perspective changes how we respond. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isa. 26:3).