Dictionary.com – *Shame – 1. The painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another. 4. A fact or circumstance bringing disgrace or regret.
*Shame launches us into a sort of sacred suffering that gives us tools, otherwise illusive, that can actually save us. It can originate in our own conscience, or it can be “assigned” to us by others who are more then willing to serve it up and offer seconds. Constructively, it can provoke remorse and change, or when felt on behalf of others, comfort, grace and prayer. Yet it also can circle over our heads with landing gear down, powerless to make its mark, if we aren’t willing to humbly inspect our hearts.
Jesus was no stranger to shame. He didn’t turn from it, but conquered the sting of it for the joy that came from making a way to save us. Hebrews 12:2, “Who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame…” Shame can be a stalker and a haunter, especially if we’re prideful, but when we follow Jesus example and despise it, we shrink it to its rightful place and role and amazing things can happen.
When I worked at a local daycare, we often sang action songs including a favorite “We’re going on a Bear Hunt”. Within the lyrics, there is a great message, “we’re coming to a wide river, and there’s no bridge going over it, no tunnel going under it, it’s just plain old water, and we’re gonna have to swim…I’m not afraid. Are you?”
We’re often put in circumstances just like that. There’s no way around, under, or over. We just gotta go through and get thicker skin while the elements pelt us. The ultimate example is Christ on the cross. John Piper wrote an excellent post on what it means to despise the shame. He concluded Jesus “despising the shame” was like saying, ‘Listen to me, Shame, do you see that joy in front of me? Compared to that, you are less then nothing…You think you have power. Compared to the joy before me, you have none…. You think you can distract me. I won’t even look at you….You are a fool. Your filthy hands fulfill holy prophecy.’ There was once a man who over the course of his lifetime had experienced devastating parenting failures with dire consequences, committed adultery, and set up a murder to cover his own mistake. Yet because he loved God and repented of his sins, he was able to say, “Those who look to Him are radiant with joy. Their faces will never be ashamed.” (Ps. 34:10) If you guessed David, you’re right. I love reading the Psalms, and am thankful he despised the shame and told his story.
So yeah, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, and so can you. That includes the boldness to be honest and humble for Christ’s sake, no pun intended. Some would rather avoid the power tools that can be earned in trials and shame, then admit anything shameful touched them or their families. Ann Voskamp said in a recent post “the worst grief is a grief that cannot speak…..Grief is the guaranteed price we pay for love.” The Bible is rife with examples of the type of guarantee that things are going to get tough, and that there’s no way around but through. There are no guarantees of turbulent free friendships, marriages, parenting, businesses, health, reputations, etc; only of a Savior who will walk beside us triumphantly through the turbulence and “keep” that which we’ve committed to Him, ultimately souls. He may allow some deep plunges, shame, grief, or heartache in order to refine and use what is of high value to Him.
For us, the hope and promise is that we have a Savior who showed us how to despise the shame and find joy. Have the filthy hands of shame and despair propelled you toward a destiny? Are you willing to share what might be useful to encourage someone?