WHEN GUILT SEEMS TOO MUCH TO BEAR
And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” Genesis 16:4-5
This story stings, personally stings. The implication on our fallen human nature is large. And here it is. When I am guilty of something, sometimes I don’t think I can bear it. To feel better, I give in to the need to transfer the blame. I lash out at someone else as if the whole matter were their fault. This is called ‘blame-shifting.’
So, let me get this right. God made Sarai and Abram a promise of a child in their old age. Sarai fainted as time progressed and believed God wasn’t good for it. She took matters into her own hands and told Abram to sleep with her handmaid so there would be a child for her to hold in her arms. Abram did what she asked. When Hagar became pregnant, Sarai lashed out at Hagar, who only did what she was told. That wasn’t enough. She then lashed out at Abram. Who was guilty? Sarai. Who dumped all the guilt on others? Sarai.
A guilty person rarely bears up under the consequences of their actions. It is a rare person who is willing to be humbled by the hand of God to suffer quietly for their wrongdoing. There is a season where I am led to submit to God’s discipline for my choices. The consequences unfold and it seems too much to bear. Grace is poured out, if I ask, and as I look to God for strength to endure, He gives an additional gift. Wisdom! He shows me what it is in me that caved to the pressure to sin. He reveals each step I took as I approached sin’s threshold. He shows me the sin from His viewpoint – just how bad it is and what harm it produces. After a time, he starts shedding light on what redemption looks like. One step at a time, He leads me out. As forgiveness and restoration begin to take place, I enter a new layer of wisdom, a firsthand experience of the nature and character of a just and forgiving God.
I feel led to speak to two people today.
- If you are suffering for your sin, God doesn’t hate you. He loves you and whom He loves, He disciplines. Don’t turn away from Him when you need Him the most. Don’t lash out at others and believe that if you do, you will benefit. You won’t. Not in the long run. If you believe you can’t bear the guilt, God will pull You close and pour strength into you. Suffering is only for a season and He will help you.
- If you are in relationship with a blame-shifter, someone who needs to convince you that you are guilty when you’re not, then realize that the guilt is not yours to bear. Speak the truth once, put the responsibility on the one to whom it is due, then live in quiet strength before God. Realize this ~ blame-shifters are drawn to those who will soak in the guilt they love to inflict. They are persuasive, building a case as to why you are the one who is guilty, when what angers them is their own deep seated sense of failure. If you keep accepting their blame, you do yourself, and them, a disservice. They will never feel the need to repent for their sins.
I do not want to waste the lessons my spiritual ancestors can teach me. Their stories are rich in wisdom. I’m making my way slowly through the life of Abram and his family because nothing was captured in words that is not beneficial.
Only You, Lord, can lead me through the minefield of real guilt and false guilt. Only You can help me suffer patiently for the wrongs I’ve done. Restoration is mine but only as a reward for accepting Your hand of discipline. I see there are no shortcuts. Grace and comfort…you offer. Amen