I am convinced that shame is the most debilitating, crippling tactic in the enemy’s arsenal and that millions of precious people are completely tortured by its taunts and bullying voices. I know what this is like and can attest that this is the worst kind of torment possible. Maybe you feel like you’re one mistake away from everyone finding out what a hot mess you are. Maybe you feel like there is something broken in you…that you are akin to a factory reject. Maybe you feel like you will never be able to please God, yourself, or others because of how flawed you are. Maybe you feel that everything that has gone wrong in your life is the courtroom evidence that the problem is you…and no matter how hard you try to fix yourself, you stay the same – messed up and broken.
A few months ago, in my morning Bible reading (I read the Bible every morning to get direction for my life and to get my head on straight!), I was led to read Zechariah 3, verse 19. I don’t know what led me that chapter, but there I was. One tool I often use when studying the Bible is called a Strong’s Concordance. What that research and study tool does is tell me the exact definition of the words in the Bible in the original language that they were written in. So here’s a screen shot of what my Bible verse looked like that day. The words in blue are all of the words that I could find out the definition for.
In this verse, the Lord is saying that a day is coming when He is going to heal and fix everything that is broken, deliver His people from everything and everyone that have been oppressing them, and turn their shame into praise. Turning shame into praise is nothing short of a miracle in my book. That means that everything that I don’t want put up on a screen for everyone to see will become something that I praise the Lord for.
So here’s the really cool part about using the Strong’s concordance. I discovered that the word for “shame” in the Hebrew language is the word, “bosheth”. If you have ever read the full account of David’s life in the books of 1 and 2 Samuel, then you might recall hearing about a guy named Mephibosheth. Do you see the word, “bosheth” in his name? When I looked up the meaning of his name, knowing what I knew about his story, what I discovered really surprised me. But I need to tell his story before I get ahead of myself.
Mephibosheth is the grandson of King Saul, who at the end of his life, went a little crazy and forced David to be in exile, on the run for his life. Saul’s son, Jonathan, however, was David’s best friend and had helped him escape the insane plot of his father. Unfortunately, both Saul and Jonathan lost their lives in battle on the same day. When Mephibosheth’s nursemaid heard the news of Saul and Jonathan’s deaths, she scooped up 5-year old Mephibosheth and ran for her life out of the palace. She was afraid that David would come with a vengeance to take his throne and exterminate Saul’s entire household. (She was totally incorrect about David, but that was the normal practice of conquering kings in that day.)
She fell as she ran and the child was severely injured. The Bible says that he was maimed in both feet so I’m going to assume that both of his legs were broken in the fall and healed badly. He was a cripple the rest of his life. And on top of that hardship, he was an exiled man, living in fear of David’s retribution against his grandfather’s crazy wrath.
Then one day, David asks his servant, “Is there anyone of the household of Saul to whom I can show kindness?” and he is told that Mephibosheth lives in Lo-Debar in hiding. I think it’s so funny that Mephibosheth’s location was available to the king the whole time. Here Mephibosheth thinks that he is hidden from the sight and reaches of King David, but in one conversation, David finds out exactly where he is!
Maybe you’re like Mephibosheth who thought that the King couldn’t locate him. Have tricked yourself into thinking that God doesn’t see everything you have done, and that somehow you have hidden your true self from Him? Let’s see what David does with this new information.
David sends his servants to fetch Mephibosheth and bring him to the palace. This poor guy is terrified by the time he shows up and stands before David. Mephibosheth has a small son and he is probably more concerned about what David could do to his child than to himself. And if David kills him, who will care for his little boy?
So I’m sure that you could have blown Mephibosheth over with a sneeze when he found out that David brought him to the palace to bless him, and bring him into his own personal household. David told Mephibosheth that from then on he would sit at the king’s table and be treated as one of David’s own family. I can picture Mephibosheth silently taking it all in, nodding in gratitude and then as soon as he left the King’s chambers, letting out a huge whoop, like the person who gets a huge promotion but wants to play it cool in front of the boss. And that’s what I call, “turning shame into praise”!
The least likely to succeed, the person who should have been an enemy and an outcast, the guy who felt broken and useless is now so highly favored that the contrast of his “before” and “after” pictures is shocking!
So do you remember how we got on this story in the first place? Do you recall that I started this post telling you that the Strong’s concordance definition for the word “bosheth” is the word “shame”? So now knowing Mephibosheth’s story, what is your guess about the meaning of his name? Would you guess, “full of shame”? How about, “crippled by shame”? Alright, I can’t take it anymore. I have to tell you! His name means “exterminator of shame”! Isn’t that fabulous?! I love how God names him “exterminator of shame” before anything bad had ever happened to him in him. Before his identity was wrecked sending him into hiding, God called him a name that foretold his victory over the tormenting voices that would imprison him for so many years.
That’s your story, too. It doesn’t matter who dropped you and how broken you turned out. It doesn’t matter if you have been hiding your brokenness and shame from God and other people. It doesn’t matter that you have made mistakes and that life hasn’t turned out like you planned. Those are all circumstantial pieces of life that can be changed in a moment when you come to the Lord and find out that He is seeking you. Mephibosheth didn’t call David up and ask for a hand-out. He was sought after and brought out of gloom. But he had to say, Yes, to the servants when they showed up at this door. He had to put his shame on mute.
What about you? Have you come to Jesus to find out what he thinks about you? Have you answered his knock on the door of your heart? Or have you been letting the tormenting and bullying voices of shame speak louder than that gentle knock?
I encourage you today to make a simple step toward Jesus and ask him to begin to reveal to you how he feels about you. Ask him humbly to begin the process of silencing the voices of shame that are crippling you. You have been called to sit alongside the King of kings and the Lord Who reigns over all lords. Don’t let lies keep you in exile from your place at the table.
Do you struggle with Shame? Do you feel like a victim of the tormenting voices that say things like:
- I should be ashamed of myself.
- Why can’t I be like so-and-so?
- There is something wrong with me.
- I should have… (fill in the blank).
- Why didn’t I (fill in the blank)?
- What was I thinking?
- I always…(fill in the blank).
- I never…(fill in the blank).
- I’m such a…(fill in the blank).
If you feel broken and flawed, you may struggle with shame. If you feel like there is something wrong with you and that life’s failures and setbacks are evidence of this, you struggle with shame.
The difference between guilt and shame is that guilt tells you that what you did was bad. Shame tells you that YOU are bad. You can be free from shame but not in your own strength. A car can’t change its own tire. Someone separate and above the car fixes the flat and puts it back on the road. Let God do what only He can do in your heart right now. Let’s pray about this.
Dear Jesus, I have been hiding my brokenness from you. I let you in to some areas, but deep inside I feel broken and messed up. I have blamed myself for being a mess. I have blamed others for the damage they have done. And sometimes, I have even blamed you for allowing me to get this way. But none of this shame and blame has set me free and I want to be free. Please, Jesus, draw near to me and show me how much you love me. Let me see that instead of fear, I can approach you with humble gratitude and the expectation of acceptance. You know me best and love me most. Thank you for your unending and unyielding love!