My ears burn as my mouth dries to ash. The shame is so acute that my innards turn to water and my hands feel heavy. If only the earth would show compassion and swallow me whole. It’s not too much to ask; after all, I have shrunk so small that a crack would suffice. Inadequate, inconsequential, insignificant, I am all of these. My worth has escaped with my voice … And you will be brought low; from the earth you shall speak, and from the dust your speech will be bowed down; your voice shall come from the ground like the voice of a ghost, and from the dust your speech shall whisper. (Isaiah 29:4 ESV)
Whether it is our sin that brings about judgment, or sin of others that brings about persecution, we all find ourselves shortened by shame. Plain stupidity with careless words, or inadvertent damage done through forgetfulness, we make ourselves clowns by our clumsiness. More often, our crimes are less benign. We are publicly shamed for being mean, mostly because we are mean. And be sure your sin will find you out.
Or, our actions are righteous and these become the object of ridicule. We refused to fudge the truth, conspire with a gossip, or endorse iniquity. Standing firm makes us an easy target. Living a quiet, godly life can enrage a neighbor who despises the conviction we impose. Like Noah, we are the butt of their jokes. Such righteousness is good for a laugh. Apparently, their sin will also find you.
Sooner or later the accusing fingers will be pointing at me, you, we. Our ears burn and we shrivel under the attention.
Whether the sin is ours, or that of our accusers, God is intent on erasing shame from his own. His actions may delay longer than we want, and his solutions may surprise us, but the end is sure. God is going to vindicate his family.
“The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel. For the ruthless shall come to nothing and the scoffer cease, and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off, who by a word make a man out to be an offender, and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, and with an empty plea turn aside him who is in the right. Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: “Jacob shall no more be ashamed, no more shall his face grow pale.” (Isaiah 29:19–22, ESV)
Walk tall. Devoid of pride, our posture is due to faith. We stand upright because we are confident in the God who redeems.