September 24, 2004
Encouragement for Today
No More Shame
Sharon Jaynes, Vice President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, radio co-host, author, speaker
I have come to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. ... to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:1-4 NIV).
Do you remember the story of Cinderella? She went from being a slave held captive to being a captivating belle of the ball, from being covered with ashes to being crowned with jewels, from being despised by her wicked stepfamily to being adored by her entire village. We all love "And they lived happily ever after" endings.
In 2 Samuel of the Bible, there is a story that somewhat reminds me of Cinderella's story, but with two major differences: it is no fairy tale and the events occur in reverse. Tamar was a lovely princess, the daughter of King David. She was one of the most beautiful young ladies in the entire kingdom. Her name meant Palm Tree, a symbol of victory and honor. Tamar had several siblings: brothers, half-brothers, sisters and half-sisters. It was a royal blended mess.
One of her half brothers, Amnon, lusted after his beautiful sister to the point he couldn't sleep at night. At the advice of a wicked friend, Amnon plotted to lure Tamar into his bedroom with the help of their unsuspecting father. He pretended to be sick and requested some of Tamar's special baked bread. He also requested that she feed it to him with her own hands. Tamar obeyed her father's request to tend to her brother. After she entered his bedroom, the supposedly sick Amnon commanded the servants to leave the room and lock the door behind them. He grabbed Tamar, threw her on his bed, and even though she begged and pleaded for him to stop, he stole her most treasured possession, her virginity. After he had his way with her and his lust was satisfied, Amnon tossed Tamar on the floor along with her hopes and dreams.
The distraught, devastated, and demeaned Tamar ran from Amnon's room crying out in anguish and despair. She tore her royal robes and ran the halls searching for her beloved brother, Absalom. When Absalom came to her rescue, he surmised what had happened and bid her to come to his house to live. "Shhhhh," he cooed, "don't worry; I'll take care of you. Now don't tell anyone what happened, just leave it up to me."
And even though Tamar was still a royal princess, she spent the rest of her days secluded in a darkened room, wearing sackcloth as if in mourning and placing ashes on her head in shame. Never again did she place the royal robe which was rightfully hers on her shoulders or live as the princess she truly was. She lived the rest of her life believing she could never be restored.
This is not just the story of Tamar, but the story of many women I meet everyday - hiding because of shame, feeling ugly and unworthy to accomplish God's dreams. Paul reminds us that we are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) but many conceal or cover up that beauty with shame from past mistakes or abuse. It is as if they rise each morning and put a fresh dusting of ashes on their souls; the very ashes that Jesus came to wash away. And, dear sister, it is Satan who keeps the supply of ashes coming and Satan who holds the box of ashes in his hand with the lid open ready for us to use.
Oh, we may not be walking around with ashes on our heads or dressed in burlap sacks, but we wear the mantle of shame that Satan has placed on our shoulders and secures with guilt-ridden deception and lies. I meet many women who have children, a husband, a successful career, and appear beautiful on the outside, but are spending their days in desolation of the soul because Satan has convinced them that's where they belong. Wearing the cloak of shame because of past abuse, misuse or mistakes, they don't realize that Jesus Christ has washed them clean, purchased a robe of righteousness made just for them, and He is eager to place it on their shoulders.
Please don't let Satan deceive you into believing that you are anything less than a beautiful princess. Do not allow him to convince you that your dignity cannot be restored because the truth is, it already has. We simply need to start believing the truth.
"The king's daughter (you) is all glorious within, her clothing is interwoven with gold. She will be led to the king in embroidered work" (Psalm 45:13-15). The prophet Isaiah spoke of Jesus in these verses: I have come to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. ... to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:1-4).
Jesus has the glass slipper in His hand. He's looking for the princess' foot to place it on. It is your foot, my friend. Don't let Satan tell you it doesn't fit. The One who made your foot has already decreed that it does.
You are the belle of the ball.
My prayer for today:
Dear Lord, thank you that you have come to set the captive free, that you have taken my mantle of shame and replaced it with the robe of Your righteousness. Lord, forgive me when I place the ashes of shame and guilt back on my head. I know that Jesus gave His very life that I might be free. Help me to walk in that freedom and to reject the lies of Satan that tell me otherwise. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Write down any ways that you can relate to Tamar's story.
Tamar's daddy (King David) didn't do anything to restore Tamar to her position as a princess. Write down the ways that your father God did restore you to your royal position.
Why do you think Amnon despised Tamar after he had raped her?
Why do you think her brother, Absoalom, encouraged her to keep the rape a secret?
How did King David's lack of involvement in the situation cause even more trouble for his family?
How has your heavenly Father gone to great lengths to restore you to your rightful position as child of the King?
"Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame" (Psalm 34:5 NIV)
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)
"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland" (Isaiah 43:19 NIV)
"I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels" (Isaiah 61:10 NIV).
Dreams of a Woman by Sharon Jaynes
*Today's Devotion was taken from Dreams of a Woman by Sharon Jaynes
Originally published Friday, 24 September 2004.