We love Jesus… so why are we still dealing with these issues? In this series, we address how the gospel frees us from the shame associated with our daily sins and struggles, and then helps us overcome them.
By Nicole Erickson
About 5 years ago, I was totally crippled by guilt and shame.
At a 20-week ultrasound, my husband and I found out our unborn daughter’s development wasn’t normal. We were told the worst-case scenario was that she wouldn’t walk or talk and may need a feeding tube. From there we were given the option to terminate the pregnancy.
About the only thing we knew for certain in that moment was that this child was a gift. The Lord intended us for her and her for us, so we pressed on. In her first year of life, she was diagnosed with a rare condition called Aicardi Syndrome. Along with that she had seizures, neurological problems, heart defects, serious respiratory issues and significant disabilities. She also endured surgeries, infections and many hospitalizations.
I wish I could say through it all I was perfectly faithful, putting all my trust in the Lord and nailing my fears and anxieties to the cross. But I didn’t. I was absolutely terrified. On top of that, I blamed myself and was convinced I did this to her. That it was either because of something I did during pregnancy or God’s judgment of my past sins. I was also sure that everyone around me thought the same thing.
As I obsessed constantly about all my possible wrongdoings, I just crumbled from the inside out. I became a shell of the person God created me to be. I was full of sorrow, had no confidence and from that lonely, dark corner certainly didn’t glorify God.
We hit an all–time low when our daughter was flown to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital for a life threatening infection. We spent 10 days in isolation in the PICU for fear it was MRSA. Though this wasn’t our first PICU stay, it was the first one in which we couldn’t leave our room. And, no one could cross our threshold unless they were covered head to toe in barriers. It kind of felt like we were one of the lepers or social outcasts mentioned in Scripture so many times. Needless to say, we didn’t get many visitors.
It was then that it hit me. We were living that “worst-case scenario” given to us years before. At that time, she was unable to walk, and even still can’t talk and has a feeding tube. The thing is, no one could tell me how much I’d love my daughter and, because of that, how little any of the rest of it would matter. I can say with absolute certainty, worst-case scenario would have been never knowing her at all.
I realized this was a glimpse of how Jesus loves us. Only, He doesn’t just see past the hardships attached to us, He also eradicates them. Whether it be sickness, pain, sin, guilt or shame, He overcomes whatever it takes to reach us. God loves His children and wants to know us, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 ESV
As I sought the Lord in Scripture, I read the story of a blind man in John Chapter 9:
“And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.’” John 9:2-3 ESV
The Holy Spirit was speaking to me, and with those words I was set free.
It wasn’t because of my sin that our daughter was born with disabilities.
Even more importantly, her life wasn’t a tragedy. She was fearfully and wonderfully made. Jesus had given her an innate ability to pour His Spirit out onto the world, and He had chosen me to care for her. In that moment, He turned my shame into honor and I realized the only person condemning me was myself.
We weren’t created to live in a broken world. And, though we have been given the power and authority through Jesus to defeat the enemy, we are still under constant attack. So, when we sin or are hit with the hard things in life, it’s an opportunity for the enemy to use feelings of guilt, fear, anxiety and shame to drive a wedge between our hearts and God. This was Adam and Eve in the garden, and is still us today. Instead of struggling with God and bringing our shortcomings to Him, we might be tempted to hide our hurt away or to try to fix it ourselves.
But no matter how dark our sin, it cannot overcome the light of Jesus.
He sacrificed Himself once, for all time, so that we may have redemption. So that we can come boldly, without shame, made whole, before the Father.
Bit by bit, we are weighed down with feelings of guilt ,shame and anxiety, as we hide away our past, our dark secrets, our addictions and obsessions, deep down inside of us. But who are we hiding them from? Are we really hiding from our Father, the One who loves us and knows us best? He is good and faithful. He forgives our sins. He makes us clean and unashamed because of Christ Jesus the Lord. So why all the deceit and shame?
The Word is living and breathing and speaks to each of us. Your freedom is there. Sometimes we just have to search harder than others. This is why Jesus ascended, so that the Helper, the Holy Spirit, would come to you. Press in.
Remember, we don’t have to be afraid or ashamed to come to Jesus with our faults because in Him there is no condemnation. Because of His blood, you have been set free.
Even with sin, with our fear and shame in tow, God still wants us to seek Him.
And to come out of our hiding and darkness, “casting your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:7-11 ESV