Updated: Jul 24, 2020
Of the various biblical passages that have gained popular notoriety over the course of time, here’s yet another text that is often recited in the Christian community.
13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:13-14 English Standard Version).
But to personalize the Lord’s words, I replaced my name for the word “people” and changed the pronouns to personal pronouns. In doing so, the passage was no longer words on a page being quoted, but rather the statement was now direct. It wasn’t speaking to the masses, per se. I had become the subject to whom the Lord was specifically speaking to:
...if Shari, who is called by name will humble herself, and pray and seek my face, and turn from her wicked ways...
I decided to pause at this juncture given I’m starting to feel some kind of way now that MY name has been inserted into the text
Not someone else, but Me.
Not the individuals I know, but Me.
Not “those” people, but Me.
Not “that” organization, but Me.
Not the current administration, but Me.
Not my husband. Not my kiddos, but just Me.
If— on the condition that, or in the event that...
If is used to say that a particular thing can or will happen only after something else happens.
On the condition that Shari, who by the way is called by God’s name, would humble herself...
Let me try it this way:
A particular thing can or will happen only after something else happens, that something else must include Shari humbling herself...
If I, Shari, being called by the Lord’s name would HUMBLE myself...
It appears the humbling is something I must do. No one else is given the responsibility to humble me, but me. This should be all my doing. And the same must be true for the reverse. I have not been given permission to try to humble someone else.
It would seem when I dare to attempt to humble someone else other than myself, I have taken on the business of being a self-appointed humbler, as it were, by trying to put other folks “in their place.” And clearly, the charge does not suggest or sanction such a gesture.
So what might humbling myself look like?
Perhaps I need to refresh my perspective of the word itself before I can rationally answer the question.
According to one definition, humble simply means to bend the knee.
Another common meaning for humble is having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.
As a verb, humble means that someone is lowered in dignity or importance. It’s the idea of bringing down one's pride and behaving in an unassuming manner—devoid of all haughtiness.
The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament defines it this way:
humble oneself, i.e., have an attitude of a proper low status in relationship to an authority, and so not being wrongly proud or pretentious, note: this action is related to repentance and a right relationship to God.
The definition further noted being humbled can also be the same as something or someone being subdued or subjected.
subdued—to conquer by force; to overpower so as to disable from further resistance; to tame; to break by conquering the temper or passions (American Dictionary of the English Language).
subjected—to be in a state of being conquered either emotionally or physically.
As if that wasn’t enough, what really stood out for me was the definition from the Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon. The word humble also meant to cause silence.
Wait. You mean to tell me part of humbling myself may require me to be quiet?
Aye Yai Yai!!
As I began mulling over the idea and prospect of intentionally working to humble myself, I turned my thoughts inward.
What if humbling myself was not solely having an appropriate estimation of myself? But in addition to that, what if humbling myself also meant subduing or taming certain dispositions and attitudes I have unnecessarily and plainly exhibited?
What if I chose to subject or rather conquer raw emotions I may be experiencing as opposed to letting whoever is in my path have it?
What if I chose to be silent about a subject I have a fanatical opinion about that may be misinterpreted as divisive and even alienating by others?
What if I, Shari did that?
The directive to humble myself takes on an entirely new and challenging outlook.
I wonder what God would begin to do if I earnestly began to humble myself.
There’s only one way for me to find out exactly what the Lord would do.
Bearing in mind the “if” implications—a particular thing can or will happen only after something else happens—I, Shari, will have to humble myself in order to see or experience God’s response.
It’s interesting how the Lord requires us to humble ourselves first, prior to praying, seeking His face, and turning from our hurtful and ill-favored ways. Before any of those moral obligations are to be accomplished, He asks foremost that WE humble ourselves.
Perhaps, He understands best the other efforts cannot be completely successful without the doing of the first.
Doing it differently (or at least I’m trying),
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Ch 7:13–14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.