Day 4 – Love and the removal of shame
How many relationships have you had in your life that made you feel loved? Not butterflies-in-your-stomach loved, but loved in a way that spoke safety into your life. Loved in a way that spoke care and concern. In this love, you could be completely yourself, secure that even when you messed up, you would be forgiven…and loved.
These relationships can be quite rare. Many of us have experienced this in two particular places – with our parents and with our husbands. If you aren’t married, it’s something you might dream about when imagining your future spouse – care, safety, acceptance. Very occasionally we find it in a true and wonderful friendship. This love is all the more special because it is rare.
In Isaiah 54, God uses the language of relationships that generally make us feel safest in this life, so that we can begin to wrap our heads around the depth of His love for us. Father, husband, wife. God will always love us greater and stronger and deeper and more unchanging than our parents or our spouse or our friends can. They are human and sinful. God is not. He is perfect. He is holy. His very name is Love, according to 1 John 4:8.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
We need this kind of love in our life. If you have never had, or have struggled to have, that safe kind of love, today’s study is hopefully all the more useful for you. Let’s read Isaiah 54:4-8.
As you read, notice the relationships God proclaims over his people. Look for those descriptor words, and titles for God, that speak of love and acceptance and safety. Jot them in your notes.
4 “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;
be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
for you will forget the shame of your youth,
and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
5 For your Maker is your husband,
the Lord of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth he is called.
6 For the Lord has called you
like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,
like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
says your God.
7 For a brief moment I deserted you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
8 In overflowing anger for a moment
I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
says the Lord, your Redeemer.
A little backstory…
Israel, God’s chosen people, had some issues. They had deserted their “marriage”, or covenant, to the Triune God who loved them. They chased after other gods. These gods were as fake as a Coach bag sold on a street in Queens. Ironically, these gods were about as unsafe as you could get. They were useless, yes, but they were also unsafe. They led the Israelites to adultery, to orgies, violence, and child sacrifice. Unsafe, sisters. And in the end, it led only to shame. They were taken captive by the Babylonian empire, led into a new land, stripped ultimately of everything that spoke safety into their lives- their homes, families, land, and their livelihoods, even while the Lord allowed them to escape with their lives.
Shame. It sits on our shoulders and rests heavy on our hearts. It eats at our stomach as a little parasite we call anxiety. We have been the deserter. We have walked away from the God who loves us for false security in any number of things. We have been cast off by the very things we chased after (v.6). And God let us. Go back to verse 7. What does God say?
“For a brief moment I deserted you…”
Essentially – I let you go your own way, because you were so determined to.
Think of the safety in a relationship that doesn’t hold you hostage, that doesn’t say “You must walk this way, or else…”
God loves us enough, to let us walk down a deserted path. And what is the promise?
“…but with great compassion I will gather you.”
Beloved, He’s going to gather us up. During another week of study we’ll talk about how He gathers His people together, but this week, think about the act of Love from a God who gathers all of our individual broken pieces and puts them together again. A God who picks our shame-filled selves up off the floor and says,
Beloved, lift that pretty head –
“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced…” (v.4)
“with everlasting love I will have compassion on you…” (v. 8)
I am your Redeemer.
This is all possible because that Redeemer offered His life for ours. Paul tells us the full story of Jesus offering His body to be “broken” on the cross for us, in 1 Corinthians 11:23-24,
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
His body, given for us, putting together our pieces, redeeming us, all of us, every part of us, head to toe and back again.
Whatever in your life you have done, where ever you have been, rest in the safe love of our God, who calls us back to Him.
Which word or phrase from our passage speaks the truth of God’s safe love into your life? What does this word say to you about the character of God?
covenant of peace
Or chose one of your own!