Hebrews 11, 12, and 13. Have you read them lately?
If not, here are some hi-lights:
- Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
- But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
- By faith Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses’s parents, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Samson, David, Daniel, Samuel…(see where this is going?)
- Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
- I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
- Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, giving thanks to His name.
- Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.
When I read this today, tears began streaming down my face. Here is “Who’s Who” list of real people who were given opportunities to trust God in the face of seemingly impossible situations–and God stood with each of them. Because of God’s faithfulness to the faith of his people: kingdoms were subdued, promises were obtained, the mouths of lions were stopped, the dead were raised back to life, out of weakness came strength, and victories in battle occurred where it made no logical sense.
If that isn’t enough to make you emotional, check out the next part: Jesus, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Have you felt shame recently? I have. I felt ashamed that I got sick with a virus again when family came to visit. I felt even more shame when I didn’t react positively to the change in anxiety medication. I felt weak, mortified, and helpless. I could tell that I have grown spiritually, though, because I didn’t feel hopeless. I knew–and know–that God will use this to bring glory to His name. He will use it to strengthen me and mold me into the woman He wants me to be. (13:20-21)
There’s that pesky word though. Shame: a tool the devil decided to whip out against me; a sly emotion that slipped into my mind and wove itself through each corner of my brain. “God has calmer, healthier people than you to do his work.” “God is disappointed that your body reacted this way again. It is over for you.” “You should be ashamed of yourself. You should be better than this by now.”
Not until this morning did I recognize the insidious nature of shame–not until I read this verse that Jesus rose above the shame of being murdered on a cross. That is public humiliation to the worst degree. But. Jesus. Was. Not. Ashamed.
He focused on the joy that was to come. He endured the path He needed to tread. He was not ensnared by sinful thoughts that sought a weak spot in His mind. He stayed strong. He stayed faithful.
And there it was. The realization that God is using this to, perhaps not quite so gently, chastise me. My immediate, consuming emotion is always shame when I feel anxious, sick, or have a bad reaction to medicine. He’s giving me an opportunity to show him that I can obey Him in the midst of this trial. As a beloved daughter of Christ I should endure this time, remain faithful and hopeful, be thankful, and look forward to the peaceable fruit of righteousness that will be mine once I’ve been trained by this. (12:7-11)
It doesn’t end there though. God continues to provide by “strengthening the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.” (12:12-13)
By His grace, I choose to remain thankful. Ultimately, we will join Jesus in the city of our living God. What we endure now is passing. He has promised us this. Noah remained faithful when God spoke to Him about the upcoming flood. Will we be faithful to God when our floods come?
This anxiety–this reaction to medication–this journey…it is a big part of my flood. Because the God who created this entire universe is in my corner, I say, “Bring it. I am no longer ashamed to feel anxious, sick, be weak or need help. This is temporary, and God is with me, so I will be thankful and faithful. This, too, shall pass.”