Where Can I Carry My Shame?

Shame is something we all carry. Because we do, it impacts our lives. It impacts our self-esteem. It impacts our relationships with others. It limits our relationship with God.

David’s son Amnon was attracted to his half-sister, Tamar. He and a friend came up with a scheme for how he could be alone with her. In that vulnerable moment an awful thing happened.

He took hold of her and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.”  She answered him, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this outrageous thing.  As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the outrageous fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.”  But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.  Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up! Go!”  But she said to him, “No, my brother, for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me.” But he would not listen to her.  He called the young man who served him and said, “Put this woman out of my presence and bolt the door after her.”  Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves, for thus were the virgin daughters of the king dressed. So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her.  And Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore. And she laid her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she went. 2 Samuel 13:11-19 (NASB)

One haunting question shadowed her steps. Where can I carry my shame?

Shame can come as a result of something done to us—as it did for Tamar. Or it can come as a result of something we did that dishonored God and caused us to dishonor ourselves.

Where can I carry shame? Is that a question that troubles you? Shame occurs when something happens that causes us to be dishonored in our own eyes. It causes us to think less of ourselves—and whether it is known or unknown—we believe it would cause others to think less of us.

Where can I carry my shame? Shame is something we all carry. Because we do, it impacts our lives. It impacts our self-esteem. It impacts our relationships with others. It limits our relationship with God. We hold ourselves at a distance because of shame.

Tamar was a princess. Once she was violated, she felt she could never be that again. She lost so much because of what was done to her. It could never be recovered. Her purity was gone. Her position was gone. Her hope was gone.

Do you find yourself in a similar position? Is it because of something you did that dishonored God and dishonored your own soul? Or is it because of something done to you? You still carry the shame of that moment. Where can you carry your shame?

The Hebrew word here translated shame means to be despised. Of course, shame causes us to despise ourselves and sense that we are despised in the eyes of others—including in the eyes of God. We know we have done things to dishonor Him. Tamar knew such an act would not only bring dishonor to her—it would bring dishonor to her father Sin is an insult to God. It is also an insult to our own soul. What was done to Tamar was a reproach to God that brought shame to her own soul.

Perhaps you wear a robe of shame today. Don’t you wish you had an answer to the question of Tamar? Where can I carry my shame?

There was no answer to Tamar’s question. In the Old Testament world of Tamar’s day, there was no remedy. She could never regain what she lost. I suppose Tamar carried her shame to her grave. But you don’t have to!

There is an interesting verse in Psalms. Paul tells us in Romans 15 that this verse is a direct reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. John also relates it as a direct reference to the Lord Jesus Christ.

For zeal for Your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. Psalm 69:9

The word reproach, in each occasion of its use, is the exact word used in 2 Samuel 13:13 for the word shame. God planned a way to deal with Tamar’s shame, my shame and your shame before it ever happened. All of us carry the shame of something we did that dishonored God and caused us to be dishonored in your own eyes and perhaps in the eyes of others. Where can I carry my shame?

Allow me to replace the word reproach in Psalm 69 with the word shame. For zeal for Your house has consumed me, and the shame of those who shamed You have fallen on me. Psalm 69:9

Where can I carry my shame? Where can you carry yours? Dear brother, dear sister, the Lord Jesus carried your shame on the cross. The dishonor you brought to yourself, and the dishonor you brought to God-all your shame and sin was laid upon Him. Jesus Christ bore your shame on that cross. He saw that hurtful thing long before it happened, and through the suffering and shame of the cross, He took your sin and shame.

David, struggling with guilt and shame in his own life, wrote these words. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Psalm 32:5 (NLT)

Where can you carry your shame? Go to the cross. By faith, turn your eyes upon Jesus. God laid all your sin and shame on Jesus, and He nailed it to His cross. Carry your shame to the cross of Jesus and there find release from the shame and guilt of whatever you might have done–or even the shame you carry for something that was done to you!

Photo by Ashton Bingham


When the Journey is too Great for You

What giant or what Jezebel has you doubting God’s strength?

Discouragement has never been a stranger to the people of God. The greatest men in the Bible faced times of crippling discouragement—times when they couldn’t take another step or cry another tear.

Elijah may be the supreme example of discouragement in all of the Bible. Many find his discouragement to be out of place—irrational—in light of the victory so recently won. But often, on the heels of some great accomplishment, comes great discouragement. At the end of our energies, we encounter the beginning of depression. Watch how this takes place in the life of Elijah

Now Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And he was afraid and arose and ran for his £life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.” 1 Kings 19:1-4 (NASB)

Some of you are walking in Elijah’s shoes. Like him, you are empty—bogged down in the muck and mire of discouragement—unable to face today—and living in constant dread of tomorrow.

Faced with this challenge from his enemy Jezebel, Elijah arose and ran for his life. Was there cause for him to run? Didn’t running exhaust him as much or perhaps more than simply resting in and trusting in God’s presence and protection?

But he did run!

What are you running from? Are you running from God and His plan for your life? Are you running in an effort to do God’s work, that He would do Himself, if you could rest your soul in Him?

And so, many of us find ourselves in a state of spiritual exhaustion. Worn out from worry—worn out from service—worn out from sin—worn out from life—we find ourselves walking in the shoes of Elijah.

Elijah was one day beyond Beersheba. Beersheba was the last outpost of the southern most border of the Promised Land. He was at the end of his rope. There he sat down, gave up, and went to sleep. It was there he began to pray for things that were outside the will of God. He even prayed that he could die. Have you ever prayed such a prayer? Elijah reacted to his circumstances rather than waiting for a word from God. Fear, not faith was ruling his heart. Stepping outside the will of God didn’t eliminate his exhaustion and discouragement. Instead, it magnified it! The same is true for you. You won’t eliminate your discouragement by stepping outside the will of God. You will multiply it.

Elijah was not resting in the Lord. He was running. He was trying to work things out on his own. In a crisis, we have a tendency to turn our faces away from what God can do for us to what we can do four ourselves. Discouragement causes us to lose our trust in God’s perfect knowledge of where we are and what we need. We begin to hew out our own cisterns, and they are always broken cisterns.

Thankfully, we serve a God who will not leave us to our own devices. He will seek us. He will take action to bring us back into a right relationship with Him, and He will seek to speak peace to our troubled hearts. So it was with Elijah.

He lay down and slept under a juniper tree; and behold, there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, “Arise, eat.” Then he looked and behold, there was at his head a bread cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. The angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.” 1 Kings 19:5-7 (NASB)

Here is a principle we need always remember. Whatever road God has for us to travel—wherever He may send us—whatever circumstances that may be ours to face—we need to hear Him say, “The journey is too great for you.”

Elijah looked at his circumstances and measured them against his own

strength. He knew he couldn’t handle it. That’s why he ran. But he should have run to God.

Henry F. Lyte had been a servant of God for many years. At the pinnacle of his career he suddenly found Himself confronted with news that he had only weeks to live. He had walked many roads and faced many challenges, but this was the highest hill he would ever climb. On September 4, 1847 after preaching his final sermon to his congregation, he placed the following poem in the hands of a family member. As expected, a short time later, he went home to be with His Lord. The words make it plain that Henry knew the journey would be too great for Him.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide; The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide;

When other helpers fail, and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, O abide with me!

Elijah couldn’t depend on his own strength to make the journey. He needed the strength God alone could impart.

The angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. I Kings 19:7-8 (NASB)

What journey lies in your future? Is it a journey that has your heart overcome with fear? Is it a journey that you began, but then ran away because of exhaustion or discouragement? Have you stepped away from the will of God or outside the will of God because you were afraid? What giant or what Jezebel has you doubting God’s strength?

God was working to bring Elijah into the center of His will? Where is the center of God’s will for you? It might be in some distant land, or in the midst of a particular set of circumstances, or it may be right where you are. The center of God’s will for you will always be the place of His presence.

When your heart comes to a place of repentance and rest, of quietness and
trust, there amidst the noise of your circumstances, you will hear from God. There, God will probe you just as He did Elijah.

Then he came there to a cave and lodged there; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” I Kings 19:9 (NASB)

Are you where God wants you to be, or are you, like Elijah, in some place of your own choosing?

When God brings you into His presence He will cause you to examine your priorities in light of His call upon Your life. Why are you here Elijah? Why have I brought you to this place? Have I brought you here to hide or to hear from Me?

What do you suppose God is doing in your life? Some of you honestly have no idea. All you can hear in your mind is the noise of your circumstances. You’ve heard from your circumstances. Now you need to hear from God.

He said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:10-13 (NASB)

When God spoke in that gentle whisper—that still small voice—look at what He said. It was that same question–a question only God could answer. Why are you here? Why has God brought you to this place? For what purpose have you come to the kingdom? Does God have a word for you? Does He have a mission for your life?

Whatever journey lies in your future—whatever God’s plan—you must remember the journey is too great for you. You need His strength. You need His gentle whisper to carry you from the wilderness of your discouragement back to the resting place of His presence.

Photo by Maksym Zakharyak