“Finding Grace in Our Disgrace”
I am all too familiar with the feeling of disgrace, being prone to lingering in the self-loathing of the recognition of my own failures. Perhaps this is never truer than when I have let someone down by my failure. You’ve perhaps felt the dread of an impending meeting with someone you’ve wronged or failed. In those moments, I have some anxiety about the response of the other person, running through scenarios in my head of what they might say and what shape their anger, disappointment, or—worse yet—confirmed suspicions might take. However, even that anxiety pales in comparison to the all-too-familiar feeling of having the truth of my own shortcomings revealed for another to see. There is perhaps nothing more exposing than admitting disgrace.
If you’ve ever shared these feelings, I pray you have at least occasionally also shared the experience of being met in this moment of vulnerability by the overwhelming grace of the one you’ve wronged. There is perhaps nothing more beautiful than being exposed for the imposter you are and yet still being engulfed in the grace of the one you’ve hurt.
Today’s passage from Jeremiah pulls no punches about the shortcomings of God’s people. In vivid, graphic detail, their sins are laid out. They have done the unimaginable. God describes their actions as worse than an adulterous spouse. Even the times they have appeared faithful have been nothing but pretense. Yet still—even still—God’s grace meets them there. Exposed as sinners, their plan is to wallow in the shameful disgrace their sin has wrought, but God invites them to return to him and in righteousness find blessing. They are invited to return, confess their sinfulness, and test the Lord’s faithfulness. In acknowledging their guilt, they are surprised to find a God who is not angry forever, but who is faithful, always.
What might we take from this passage? When we have been wronged, we might pray to be so shaped by the grace of God we’ve encountered in Christ Jesus that we would hold no one’s wrongs against them but offer grace. And when it is we who have wronged others, we might be courageous enough—even in our disgrace—to return to them, confess our sinfulness, and there in that vulnerability open the door for the potential of grace.
The promise of Advent, the hope in the coming of Christ, is that when we come to God with our disgrace, God meets us with beauty of grace beyond imagining. Return to God. Confess. Find God to be faithful. Always.