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Lessons from Luke (Four): My Disgrace

Updated: Feb 9, 2023

"'The Lord has done this for me,' she said. 'In these days he has shown his favour and taken away my disgrace among the people.'"

(Luke 1:25 TNIV)

We continue our season following Jesus' teachings from the Gospel of Luke. Lesson Four focuses on Elizabeth and her disgrace among the people.

Reading: Luke 1: 8-25 & 57

Focus: Elizabeth

Pregnant late in life, Elizabeth delights that God has removed her "disgrace". In this expression lies many stories, years of yearning, disappointment and shame. Tellingly, Elizabeth tells of a "disgrace among the people".

Too often in life, we are made to feel 'less than' or socially apart because some element of what constitutes the accepted social jigsaw is missing from our CV. Elizabeth speaks of a "disgrace among the people". As with Elizabeth, this could be childlessness - whether within marriage or because we have not found a spouse - or it could be mirrored through the lack of any social "must have" that leaves us feeling bereft, downcast and somehow at odds.

The cry of Elizabeth is echoed today: most likely silently, maybe occasionally, but always with sorrow and often pain. These are cries that melt the individual concerned but barely touch others - but they do touch God.

The cry may exist in many sectors: poverty or low income makes one unable to participate in a range of activities or feeling too shabbily attired to dare be involved. Singleness, divorce or widowhood may mean being uninvited to social gatherings because you pose an awkward space at the table or a perceived threat.

Like Elizabeth, these aspects of our life create an isolation or "disgrace", cultivated not only by the rejection of others, but also by the withdrawal of the individual affected: the childless who avoid occasions where all other guests are parents, singles who decline another wedding invitation. This is separate from jealousy or bitterness, which we must recognise and address; it is however a sorrow to navigate.

What Elizabeth's story shows us is that we are not alone in such experiences and have a God who cares: who sees and understands what may feel a disgrace, the unspoken stigmas that form in our minds or around us.

Her story reassures us that God responds to deep heart cries - be we childless, single, poor, jobless, sick, divorced - even what feels our "disgrace" (Luke 1:25). He may not respond precisely as you expect, but call to him and he will show his favour and indeed, remove your disgrace.

Further reading: Psalm 30 and Isaiah 61

Copyright © Sharmila Meadows 2022

Scripture quotations taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, TODAY’S NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 2004 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, a division of Hodder Headline ltd. All rights reserved. “TNIV” is a registered trademark of International Bible Society.

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