Encouragement for Today
“Sincerely Yours, Shame”
Lysa TerKeurst, President of Proverbs 31 Ministries
Psalm 34:4-5, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” (NIV)
I still remember the outdated furniture and stale coldness of the room. Women from all walks of life were there, and forever they and I would have something in common. Our paths had crossed at this awful place, a place where life was exchanged for death. We would now share an unmentionable secret that would shake some of us to the very foundations of our lives.
No one let her eyes meet another’s. Though medical fluorescents brightly lit the room, the heavy darkness in my soul made true vision nearly impossible. What had brought me to this place? Certainly, I had people to blame. There was the man who sexually abused me in childhood. I could blame my biological father. Maybe if he had given me the love and acceptance I so desperately longed for, I would not have come to this place. I could blame God. Why had a loving God let such terrible things happen to me? Tears filled my eyes and deep sobs poured from my soul in that cold room. I knew I could not blame anyone but myself. I’d walked into this place. I’d signed the papers. I’d allowed my baby to be aborted.
Satan, sin, shame. You can almost hear the slithering beast hissing at the mention of these words. They blend together in their pronunciation and work together in the destruction of all that lies in their wake. I can just imagine Satan slithering close to an unsuspecting victim, hissing enticing words that lead to sin and then boastfully signing his name across the victim’s heart: Shame.
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines shame as “a painful feeling of guilt for improper behavior.” I have felt shame’s pain – a deep, constant throbbing of regret from the past mixed with dread of the future.
Let’s look as the first shame made its debut, starting with Adam and Eve. The first humans were living an amazing life. They were surrounded by beauty and plenty. They lived in a lush garden, had all the delicious food they could ever want, and had an incredible marriage. There was no sin, and as Genesis 2:25 says, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
Then the craftiest of all the creatures slithered onto the scene and set out to deceive Eve. He first questioned her about what God had instructed. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1), making her doubt the validity of God’s instructions. Eve replied that God said they must not eat (true) or even touch (not true) the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or they would die (v. 3).
But Satan twisted God’s truth and answered, “You will not surely die . . .For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God knowing good and evil” (vv. 4-5).
Then, just like Eve, we let Satan’s lies enter our minds and we rationalize our way to shame’s grasp and we’ve been trying to cover its mark ever since. Not only do we try to cover our sins, but we also mimic Adam and Eve’s attempt to hide from God. But God never leaves us in this hiding place long. He looks for us, calling, “come out, come out, wherever you are.”
In the wake of their sin, God confronted Adam and Eve with the consequences of it. There are always consequences to our sins, but I know firsthand that God can take what Satan meant for shame and use it for His glory!
Genesis 3:21 is so precious. It says, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” I can just imagine God gently removing Adam and Eve’s frail little fig leaves and saying, “Don’t disguise your shame with inadequate coverings. I will make a good covering for you. It’s not to hide your shame as the fig leaves, for we have already revealed your sin and dealt with it. This is the protective covering of a sacrificed animal.” Sin demands a sacrifice. God knew that this time the shed blood of animals would be shame’s sacrifice, but one day that sacrifice would require precious blood dripping from a cross.
My Prayer for Today:
Sweet Jesus, thank You for Your blood . . . the sacrifice that erased all of my shame from Your eyes. I thank You for seeing me as pure, clean and spotless and without blemish. You alone have the power to heal those parts of me that I have buried and tried to hide for so long. May Your grace be enough for me today as I trust You to work all things for Your good.
Write down and meditate on these three truths:
By His wounds, I am healed.
God never forgets His promises. When He says that nothing I have ever done could make Him stop loving me, it is absolute truth. His love for me cannot be shaken.
Jesus died of a broken heart, so that I don’t have to. He thought of me on that cross, and because of His sacrifice, I am forgiven and set free.
Think of it this way:
We mess up so badly that our lives seem like nothing but heaps of ashes.
God pours His Living Water over the ashes.
He mixes the water with the ashes, resulting in clay.
He takes this clay and molds it into a vessel of beauty.
He fills our vessel with His overflowing love, and He uses us to pour His love into the hurting lives of others.
Hebrews 12:2-3, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (NIV)
Titus 3:3-5, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (NIV)
Who Holds the Key to Your Heart, by Lysa TerKeurst
The Ultimate Makeover, by Sharon Jaynes
Originally published Thursday, 14 April 2005.