Isaiah 54:4 Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame; for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood anymore. (KJV)
Message of compassion. Message of hope. Message of love. Message of acceptance. Message for a nation and for the church and for ME! It is a message of a father to his son/daughter; it is a message from a husband to a wife. Layers of meaning. Written in terms impossible to be misunderstood. The good news! You Belong!
Youth. If you are over twenty five you can understand this. What young person has not memories-haunting memories–of confusion, mistakes made, decisions poor, consequences ongoing. Shame. Shame for ourselves. Shame brought to our family.
Shame. A word that screams in our inner self “I am a mistake.” Feelings that keep us beaten down, “feeling unworthy, and destroys connection and belonging.” (Brene’ Brown)
Widowhood. Reproach is (according to the dictionary) to address (someone) in such a way as to express disapproval or disappointment; Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance translates the Hebrew cherpah as scorn. Every widow, especially young widows, knows this. Grief worn on a sleeve for all the world to see. Unwelcome. Don’t let it show! Keep it to yourself! Get over it! Stuff it down.
No one wants to see your pain. No one wants to hear your cries. Pitied, impoverished, unprotected. A picture of fear we all have: LOSS of our beloved.
God calls Israel His wife. Jesus calls the church His Bride. God calls us His children, His nation, His royal priesthood. God pursues us with the passion of a father looking for his prodigal; God chases us with the love of a devoted husband for his unfaithful wife. Accepting us as we are but refusing to leave us in our current condition: harlot to virgin, imprisoned to free, sick to healed, demented to sane, wayward to obedient, stubborn to willing, babies needing milk to youth needing meat, drones to workers, slaves to adopted members of the family, childish to mature.
Shame and reproach, confusion and fear give way because of what the love of God does in the human heart. TRANSFORMATION. We stand unashamed in His presence. Welcomed, loved, cherished, forgiven, our shame and reproach remembered no more-ever. Lost becomes found.
I John 2:28 And now, dear children, continue in Him, so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at his coming. (emphasis mine)
We are His Beatitudes-His supremely blessed.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Gospel of St. Matthew 5:3-10
Let this sink into the holes in your soul and heal you. Let these holes become windows through which others may look and see God’s glory living in and shining through you. No more shame, no more fear, no more reproach. This is pure, unadulterated, life giving HOPE and JOY!
Tell Your Heart to Beat Again, by Danny Gokey (tissue alert if you really listen to the words)
Brene’ Brown, sociologist researcher, has studied shame and vulnerability for the past decade. She does an excellent job of explaining the difference in shame and guilt and I highly recommend her TED talks on youtube. Her books I Thought It Was Just Me, Gifts Of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong are all best sellers and great reads.