I have never been so humiliated! Who hasn’t felt like that, sometime? How common the experience is, is reflected In the variety of ways we can describe our embarrassment – nonplussed; crestfallen; having to eat humble pie; looking foolish; feeling small; being red in the face! It can mean a loss of dignity – something we don’t much like – it hurts. When it is unwarranted it can be the cause of resentment.
If it is of any comfort to us, albeit a crumb, we’re not alone. Some notable people have suffered the same fate. The Apostle Paul knew how to be abased; knew what it was to be humiliated. In his letter to the early Philippian church, he relates to his Christian friends a catalogue of deprivations he had to undergo in the course of his peripatetic ministry. He wasn’t bemoaning the fact as one who had learned to grin and bear it! He is saying – I know how to handle it. It is not human resolve alone that enables him to ride and conquer the storm:
I am able to face anything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4: 13.
John Wesley, founder father of Methodism, knew humiliation too. He began his ministry in Savannah, Georgia, as a chaplain with the ambition to convert the native Indians. His time there was short-lived. He returned from his missionary assignment in America a failure and it might not be too much of an exaggeration to name him a broken man; certainly bewildered and unhappy having made a bit of a fool of himself in his pastoral dealings with a young female parishioner and without the slightest impact on the Native Indians. It was too much
for him and he was ready to give in. What the world would have missed if Wesley had not met Peter Boehler, a Moravian pastor, on the journey home, who helped keep him on track, urged him to keep on preaching faith until faith found him. What the world might have missed if Mr. Wesley had not learned to be abased prior to the night of the 24th May, 1738. It all happened for him that night and for those of us who follow in his succession. He recounts it in his Journal:
“I went very unwillingly to a meeting of a religious society. . .. someone was reading Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans. At about a quarter before nine I felt my heart strangely warm, I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation.”
Life can be tough for us sometimes. People have no right to make us look foolish – they do! Unkind words cut to the core; cynical actions wound deeply; we let ourselves down. There are times when through ignorance or folly we have ended with egg on our face. Times when great has been our fall through the failure of well-intentioned but immodest ambition. It hurts…..
Do not despair, there was no greater humiliation than that which Jesus was required to suffer – spat upon; beaten; treated like a criminal; nailed to a Cross. No wonder he asked the Father if there was no other way – and ALL for us.