Identity Crisis: Shame, Hope, and the Gospel

Last week, I talked about some of my struggles that I had in life. I was insecure and my insecurity was masked by an identity founded on popularity. I wanted others to think highly of me according to the world’s standards. Well, I am reminded that the “sand foundation” of popularity is quickly washed away by the surf of life’s “sea”. What I was finding my identity in could not hold and, therefore I found myself just as insecure.

Consequently, other sinful things began to be the man-made bandages that I had wrapped around my wounded identity. Dirty bandages wrapped around an open wound bring infection, and it spread to my heart. Infections only produce more unnecessary pain and I needed healing desperately.

Cleaning of an infected wound is painful but in the end it saves your life. I like what C.S. Lewis said in his book, “The Problem of Pain”, “Pain is God’s megaphone.” You ever notice that when people are going through something hard they tend to call out to God for help? Could it be that the process of bearing pain is a way that God draws our attention to Him to draw things out of us?  Read this:

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

What can we rejoice in? A: Sufferings. Why? Sufferings produce endurance. What else? Endurance produces character which produces hope.

Here is what I realized when I dealt with the sin in my heart:

First, there were some painful and embarrassing consequences for my sin. I was vulnerable. I felt dirty because everything was out in the open and many people knew what I dealt with. Shame then assumed my identity.

Because of the shame, I didn’t feel worthy. Our enemy would love to keep us in that mindset. “You aren’t worth anything! Look at what you have done! You can’t be used!” Then I realized something. My enemy was right; I do deserve all of this pain and I’m not worth anything…apart from Christ. It was humbling. Apart from Jesus’ selfless act upon the cross and his resurrection from the dead, I remain in my shame. I had to go through the process of transformation. I endured and it taught me character that gave me hope and that did not put me to shame.

I have to preach to myself daily that I am a sinner, but because of Christ and what He has done I am cleansed and free. Psychologically, this is what happens when one preaches to himself daily who they are in light of Christ: the brain begins to restore healthy pathways. When I preach the gospel to myself and see everything in light of the gospel, I want to do the things of the gospel. When I see in Genesis 1 that I am made in the image of God, I begin to see that I have worth. When I preach to myself that Jesus died on the cross for me, it tells me that someone truly loved me. I then begin to see others in light of the gospel. In light of what Jesus had done for me, I want to do for others. Therefore, a kingdom perspective shows the urgency of evangelism. Self-sacrifice is made easier because it has been given to me. I want to encourage those who go through sufferings but not hinder them from suffering since I know that produces endurance, which produces character, which produces hope. Everything becomes about the gospel and my heart is revived. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me!

Do I always live out the gospel every day? No, I am still human. Do I have to remind myself every day who I am in light of Christ? Yes, every day. Do I still struggle with insecurities? Yes, but even those remind me that I still need Jesus. I still need to see that in light of God and what He has done, I am still a loved individual that has worth. No longer am I trying to find satisfaction in a world that is perishing but in an everlasting God and His coming kingdom. I want all to have that confidence in Him!

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”-Matthew 7:24-27

Application:

  1. Begin to preach to yourself as much as possible that Jesus died for you and rose again and that He loves you.
  2. Preach to yourself that you are made in the image of God.
  3. Preach to yourself that Jesus died on the cross for your co-worker, friend, family member, and so on.
  4. Preach to yourself that they are made in the image of God.

As that becomes a belief system, see how your perspective and life changes.

 

Ryan Thomason works with Transform Student Ministries as the product development and events coordinator. He has voluntarily served Precept Ministries for close to 10 years before coming on staff full time. He has interned with their media department in 2008 and with the student ministry in 2009. He has lived in Guatemala to learn Spanish.

“I have become its servant, according to God’s administration that was given to me for you, to make God’s message fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to His saints.” Colossions 1:25-26

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it!
Icon Icon Icon

Leave Your Response

* Name, Email, Comment are Required