No matter how we look at it, one truth remains evident: life can be difficult. Like the changing seasons, we have days which are sunny and bright. We also have seasons which are filled with storms. It is the difficult stormy times that shape us into the people we are. Life storms test our faith, and challenge our resolve to remain faithful to the Lord’s will. Our study this week comes from The Storm Inside by Sheila Walsh.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39
If you’ve ever lived through a tornado, hurricane, blizzard, or wildfire, you know that a storm can devastate a life in minutes. Treasured possessions are soaked, burnt, or torn apart beyond recognition. Sometimes the power goes out for days and you’re left sitting in darkness.
Life can be like that. Our own choices or the things other people do to us can be equally shattering. The event may pass, but the storm inside goes on. Heartbreak. Fear. Regret. Insecurity. Shame. Despair. When these emotions churn inside us, it’s hard to receive God’s love or to love our neighbors as we want to.
God offers us a way through the storm. The Storm Inside looks at the stories of eight biblical women, following their path, and see how God came through for each of them.
From Shame To Love
Shame is one of the most humiliating, weighty burdens that a person can carry. Just thinking about the things that have shamed us can send us into a corner to hide. Don’t worry—I’m not asking you to share your deepest secrets here. Instead, in this first session you’ll hear about the shame I carried for years, and you’ll see how an encounter with Jesus transformed a woman whose shameful past made her an outcast in her hometown. We don’t even know her name, but the woman from Samaria became a compelling witness after she experienced the life-changing power of Jesus’ love.
Video: From Shame to Love
As you watch the video, use the outline provided to follow along or to take notes on anything that stands out to you.
Add your notes to the following entries:
- “Shame is life dominating and stubborn. Once entrenched in your heart and mind, it is a squatter that refuses to leave.” — Edward T. Welsh
- Guilt tells us we have done something wrong. Shame tells us we are something wrong.
- Shame is not what you did but who you are.
- Only Jesus can address the life-threatening weight of shame.
- God’s love is greater than any shame that has found us.
- Christ offers us a new wardrobe: clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
- The Samaritan woman became the first evangelist.
- We are never freer than when we tell Christ the truth about the things that have weighed us down and exchange those for His overwhelming love.
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Samaria (John 4:4). After the Israelites of Samaria had flagrantly disobeyed God for centuries, God allowed the Assyrians to conquer their country and send many of their people into exile. The Assyrians moved conquered people from various other countries into Samaria to resettle the land. These people intermarried with the remaining Israelites and created a religion that was a mix of Israelite and foreign traditions. This is one of the primary reasons Samaritans were so hated by the Jews. They were viewed as a polluted people. See 2 Kings 17:24-41 for details.
Sixth hour (John 4:6). Noon. Drawing water and hauling gallons of it home was hard work, so women normally did it in the coolest morning hours. Only someone excluded from the company of other women would do it at noon in that hot climate.
Woman (John 4:7). At that time, no respectable Jewish man would talk with even a virtuous Jewish woman in public, not even his wife. A rabbi certainly would not discuss theology with a woman. This was in keeping with practices throughout the Middle East, where women were supposed to be as unnoticeable as possible in public and were discouraged from leaving the house except when necessary.[/ez_box]
The Storm Inside – Session 1 Questions
1. What brought you the most encouragement in Sheila’s teaching?
2. What are the differences between shame and guilt? Give an example of shame and an example of guilt.
3. Read John 4:4-30. What does the woman at the well have to be ashamed of? What shame does she carry as an individual? As a woman? As a Samaritan?
4. How does Jesus expose the woman’s shame at various points in their conversation?
5. How would you describe Jesus’ attitude toward her shame? For instance, does He suggest that she’s fine and has nothing to be ashamed of? That she’s unworthy of His notice?
As Edward T. Welsh says, “Shame is a squatter, staying with an unwillingness to leave.” We hide our shame, embarrassed about who we are. We might share our guilt, but shame stays tucked away in the dark places of our life.
6. If you feel comfortable doing so, share about a time when shame invaded your life.
7. In John 4:4-26, where do you see Jesus treating the Samaritan woman with love? List each instance, and tell how it reflects love.
8. In Romans 8:38-39, the apostle Paul makes a list of things that can’t separate us from the love of God. What would you add to Paul’s list? What are some things you sometimes fear could separate you from God’s love?
9. It is impossible to get beyond God’s loving reach? What comfort does this give you in knowing that God’s love through Christ transcends any shame that you may feel?
As Paul says in Romans 8:38-39, nothing — not even shame — separates us from the love of God. Jesus pursues us, loves us, and steps across cultural lines to offer the gift of eternal life. As you close this session, bring your heart before God in prayer, using either the prayer provided here or your own.
Dear God, Your love is abundant and eternal, transcending all shame. You know everything I’ve ever done and everything others have done to me, and You sent Your Son to remove the shame of those things. In You I am clean and pure, with nothing to hide. Please help me to come out of hiding and trust Your love, and to treat others with that same shame-cleansing love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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Join the conversation on our blog and share your answers to the questions above! We would love to hear from you!