“Shame is a prison as cruel as the grave/shame is a robber, and he’s come to take my name.” -“Ain’t No Grave,” Bethel Music
I recently had a conversation with a woman who was filled with so much shame that all she could imagine God saying was “I don’t want you here.”
Anger at the lie surged through me, and I prayed over her, confident in God’s Father love whose arms are always open and waiting.
But then shame returned to stalk me these past few weeks, that sly enemy lion, growling that I should be so much further along than I am. Shame’s words:
You’ve been following Christ for years. How can you still struggle with this? You’ve been following Christ for years, yet look at you.
Shame tells me that this time, God’s patience will surely run out.
God’s word tells me that he has compassion on me, for he knows that I am dust. (Psalm 103: 14)
Shame tells me to censor my prayers, that God is a triage unit, and I should only pour my heart out to him if it’s something that others would agree is significant.
But reading the Psalms shows me that this shame is not from Him. The book of Psalms is a game changer when shame comes knocking. In the Psalms, we see the raw cries of those who felt forgotten and abandoned by God. In their prayers, two themes emerge:
- They were unafraid of pouring out the darkest thoughts of their heart to God.
- While shouting their afflictions, they kept His promises in view.
Psalm 42 is a beautiful example of these 2 themes. The Psalmist is honest about his state: “My tears have been my food day and night…I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me?”, but comes back to the Lord’s goodness: “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
For me, a journal is how I follow the pattern of the Psalmists. Writing Scripture focuses my mind in a way that speaking does not, but for you, it might be saying Scripture out loud or singing. Whatever your preference, know that proclaiming the promises of God is a beautiful and powerful act of defiance against Satan’s schemes.
Some great places to start are Psalm 42, Psalm 73, and Romans 8.
Later this week, I’ll be sharing my process of writing, praying, and responding to the Psalms. I hope you’ll join me!