From the moment Estella despised his coarse hands and thick boots, a shroud of shame hung over Pip’s life, in Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations.
And that’s how Pip came to despise his dad, Joe Gargery, and his life’s destiny as a country blacksmith. Pip strives to become a “gentleman” but instead becomes a snob and a spendthrift. When his sham of a life implodes, it is the humble blacksmith, Joe, who pays off his bills.
Shame is dynamite to blow up family, loyalty and values. When we live for others, we lose ourselves.
Shame entered the world with the first sin and continues to rage, a byproduct of sin. Paul exhorts us to never be ashamed of Christ (Rom 1:16). Only worry about receiving praise from Him.
They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. — Acts 5:41 KJV
Peter and disciples had just been arrested for preaching Jesus. The Sanhedrin whipped them and warned them to stop. Threats and beatings are what made them rejoice.
Are you suffering for Christ? Take heart. That is what the disciples did. They didn’t get discouraged. They didn’t ask, “Why, God?” They praised God for the difficulties and dug in. They prayed for strength to continue.
Don’t give up, if you are fighting the good fight. Rejoice for the opposition, for the reverses, for the trials. Things appear to be spiraling out of control. In reality, God has everything under control and will work it all out in ways you can’t imagine.
Basically, they find grist to throw stones at the Puritans — and by extension, consciously or unconsciously, at all Christianity — from The Scarlet Letter. But I think they’re missing the major plot focusing on the minor theme.
Hester Prynne is a heroine. She reversed her fortunes by overcoming. When they branded her an adulteress (she got pregnant, not by her husband, who was traveling away from her for two years), publicly shaming her, Hester made the extraordinary decision to stay in the same town and bear the stares.
Instead of running away, she confronted her detractors. Instead of meeting with open rebellion the unjust and hypocritical reviling, she quietly and unassumingly dedicated herself to help the poor of the town. After 7 years, the red “A” on her bosom came to mean “Able” in the eyes of all the town. She journeyed from sinner to saint.
I can’t throw dynamite sticks at the Puritans. Instead, I want to live the life of Hester. I want to quietly show the work God is doing in my life. I want to do the works of God and demonstrate fruit of repentance. No, I haven’t committed adultery. Her example transcends one sin and speaks about the human virtue of overcoming adversity and the triumph of change. She shows how strength can come from weakness.