“How Do I Discern God’s Voice?”
(To go along with this advent devotional, we’ve also made a Spotify playlist! Check it out here.)
Last week, we spoke about God’s work- even in the midst of silence. We then invited you to take time to practice silence as an opportunity to trust God. But silence can be scary.
When we sit in silence, it oftentimes does not take long for shame to creep in. Shame infiltrates our thoughts quietly but can control our thoughts loudly. Shame is the voice that tells you to hide rather than to share and to bury rather than to simply be. Have you heard that voice before? It’s the voice that speaks your insecurities as truth and calls you unworthy. Often, we confuse the voice of shame and God’s voice, but this misinterpretation is nothing new.
When we look back to the advent story in Luke chapters 1&2, we see that shame was wrapped around the culture Jesus was born into. Elizabeth, Mary’s relative, was an older woman who couldn’t live up to the expectations of her community by having children. In that cultural context, this was shameful. The shepherds were men outcast and stereotyped by society who lived marginalized simply because of their job. Shame. Mary was a young, unmarried woman who, though she was a virgin, became pregnant with a baby. Mary too, was well acquainted with shame.
But it was not shame that Mary was bearing. In fact, Mary held the remedy to shame that enslaved the world around her: HOPE.
Our world belittles people with shame. But our God does not speak the language of shame.
We have a God who speaks fluently in hope.
Hope for the world was born that night as a crying baby. And the world crying from the pain of shame was soothed with a lullaby of hope. A hope that would bring light to darkness. A hope that defeated death on a cross. A hope that brought the marginalized into belonging and the broken into restoration. Jesus, the light of the world, our living hope, entered the world that first Christmas night!
As a believer, it is normal to experience an inner tension because shame and hope are two opposing forces in the movement of the soul. Shame holds you back, but hope pulls you forward!
So where the world cast shame on the old woman without child, God spoke hope of a child who would pave the way for the coming Messiah. Where the world placed shame on the marginalized shepherds, God extended an invitation to witness Hope being born. Where the world shouted shame on the unmarried pregnancy, God whispered hope for the world.
Where we see shame, God speaks hope.
Maybe you have been living captive to shame. You should know that hope is the candle lit for you this season. And the constant flame can be a continual reminder that our King has entered the world, and his presence rattles our culture that believes we deserve shame. God does not speak in shame. He speaks hope over your life and over the world.
Here is how you can start to discern God’s voice:
Take some time in the midst of this week to find a quiet place to acknowledge silence, posture your heart, and pray to God.
- Acknowledge : Write out your thoughts.
-What parts of your life has shame claimed? Write them down.
-Can you identify where that shame is coming from? Remember that God does not speak shame.
- Posture : Now take those thoughts captive.
-Write down this phrase: “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.”
-As you focus on the areas where you feel shame, open your hands as a physical posture of release.
-Now try and posture your heart to God. What would it look like to replace those areas of shame with hope?
- Prayer : Now invite God into those thoughts.
-Pray and ask God to speak hope into your life.
-Isaiah 40 reminds us that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength”.
-“God, as I posture myself to trust you with my shame, help me to discern your voice. Renew me with your strength and give me a confidence in Jesus who is my Living Hope.”
(If you didn’t check it out before, check out this week’s advent playlist here.)