“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.”
The Old Testament book of Joel is well suited for the Season of Lent. In Joel, God confronts his people with their sins, but extends marvelous promises of steadfast love and blessing to those who turn to him. This blessing includes the removal of shame Apparently this promise is so staggering that it bears repeating in the space of two verses!
Those of us who grew up in America tend to struggle to grasp what shame really is or what it means to be set free from it (we would do well to ask those in our midst who might be from a culture where honor and shame are understood and experienced more consciously to share some insights with us here). However, healing form shame has been on my mind a great deal lately, both in my own pursuit of God and in my pastoral conversations with some you.
So, if you’re perhaps looking for a Lenten exercise, here’s a possibility: Search for the word shame in the Bible (you can use BibleGateway.com). What can you learn about shame and how God heals us from it?
All of us carry shame, but most of us are either not expressly aware of it or struggle to know how to appropriate Jesus’ love for us in a way that will enable us to experience healing. But since shame is such a major theme in God’s word, we would do well to give it our attention. Perhaps this Season of Lent can be a time for you to begin a journey out of shame that you hadn’t previously considered.