He had hidden it for most of his life, from the day he first saw the expressions and heard the whispers of those around him. And now it was just a source of shame and embarrassment. As long as he could keep it from others, keep them from seeing and knowing, everything would be okay. But always keeping it hidden was an exhausting and terrifying process. That’s why he was so horrified on that fateful day when Jesus came along and called out to him, “Stretch out your hand.” It was his worst nightmare come to life. There was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. This was the moment when he had to bring it out of hiding. This was the moment of truth when he had to put himself out there, completely exposed and vulnerable, and see everyone’s response to that ugly secret he had tried to keep hidden his entire life.
Jesus knew. Jesus knew him. Jesus knew his pain. Jesus knew his fear. And Jesus knew his shame. Jesus knew that putting yourself out there can be a terrifying experience, but he also knew that it was much better than the alternative. Shame lives and grows and thrives in the dark, silent, and hidden places of our lives—completely poisoning our souls with thoughts of unworthiness and unlovability. It divides and isolates and defeats. It is not until we expose our shame to the light, and bring it out into the open, that healing and wholeness and restoration can even become a possibility. Once our shame is brought out into the open it loses its power over us and healing can begin. Where has shame taken up residence deep in your heart these days? How does it affect your life? Where and how is Jesus asking you to stretch out your hand today?
Lord Jesus, thank you that you call us out of hiding and into your loving and healing presence. Give us the courage this day to stretch out our hand, whatever that may mean. Amen.