(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Oxymoron: Shame and Christianity
By Christina Lopez
We all live in this world and have been used or abused by someone in some way. As Christians, we are made free by Jesus Christ and don’t have to be victims or carry a burden of shame that is not ours. Instead, we can live in a way that is honoring to God in all we do; then, we will watch Him give us greater victory! Joseph, in Genesis 37-45, was a guy who suffered severe abuse by the family members who should have been there to protect him. Instead of carrying a burden of shame or humiliation, Joseph lived his life to honor God. God honored Joseph, even using him to save those around him. We, too, can have this kind of victory.
First, we have to understand that we can’t control every circumstance of our lives. Joseph couldn’t control the fact that he was his father’s favorite and that this favoritism fed his older brothers’ hatred for him. Many times, the situations that we have been in which have led to our abuse are times in which we did not have control. Joseph’s brothers hated him so much, they decided to kill him by tossing him into a deep pit and left him to starve to death. However, when they saw an opportunity to make money, they sold him as a slave. His big brothers, who were supposed to be there for him and protect him, human-trafficked him. I cannot imagine the deep devastation this must have caused Joseph. Many of us, too, have been hurt by people who were supposed to be there for us, even protect us.
Second, we must recognize that Satan loves to capitalize on this deep pain. He will try to flip this around on us, saying that all of this hurt was really our fault. He will demand that we carry a burden of shame with a weight that makes us feel like every step forward causes us to scrape our faces on the ground. He may also try to isolate us from others who love us, who would help us draw closer to Jesus. He will also shout ugly, degrading things at us—continually. So, how can we get out from under this burden? Help is only a breath away!
Jesus! His name means, “The Saving One.” We can call out at any time! He is ready and waiting to set us free the moment we call on Him! In the book of John, Jesus declares, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Jesus will set us free from that burden of shame. He invites us in Matthew 11:28, saying, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Third, Joseph chose to live honoring God in every situation he was placed in instead of carrying a burden of shame or worthlessness. Later, he was accused of a crime he didn’t commit and spent several years in prison for it. Still, he continued to honor God in prison, and God honored him! Joseph was eventually freed by the pharaoh of Egypt, where he had been wrongfully imprisoned. In the same way, God, our King, can free us from the prison of shame if we will let Him. He can also lift our spirits, just as Joseph, who was then given the title of the second highest ruler in all of Egypt.
Finally, in addition to delivering us from the burden of sin and lifting our souls to soar, God also stands beside us to help others who are starving for Him and to forgive those who abused us. In Joseph’s case, God used him to help save Egypt and the surrounding nations from starving to death in a famine. God also allowed Joseph to save his brothers lives. Joseph forgave his brothers and announced, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). In His time, God will give you a chance to extend forgiveness as well. In the meantime, don’t go along with any of Satan’s tactics to kill, steal from, or destroy you.
Jesus is our Healer. He invites, “Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy-burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). You don’t have to turn to substances or even others for healing and wholeness. Instead, cry out to Jesus to save you from the burden of shame and humiliation. It was never yours to carry. Live like Joseph did, for the honor and glory of God. And, watch God take care of the rest!