All of us experience the pain of rejection. Maybe you’re there today. When Jesus sent out the 72, He told them to expect it (Luke 10:16). “The harvest is plentiful,” but you and I will not be welcome in every field.
And, let’s face it, rejection comes in all shapes and sizes. We may be rejected because of our fidelity to the gospel. We may be rejected because of our score on an exam. We may be rejected because someone doesn’t like the color of our shirt. We’ll have our fair share of all of it to deal with along the way. But, whatever form it takes, rejection stings.
“I am not enough.”
Generally speaking, that haunting self-talk is why rejection stings. Those four words can penetrate my soul and jump on me like a monster from under the bed! And, when they do, I tend to view every other circumstance in my life through that deceptive lens.
The feeling of rejection paralyzes me. “What do you mean I’m not smart enough?” “What do you mean I’m not good enough?” You and I feel smothered and trapped.
The feeling of rejection prevents me from moving forward. After a big enough dose of rejection, I don’t even want to try again. It simply hurts too much and moving forward just feels too darn scary.
The feeling of rejection pushes me toward the sidelines and out of the game because working through the pain of my rejection – well – just feels like too much work. You and I can feel benched for the entire season.
We’re reminded of that all over the Bible. When you and I carry the message of the Cross, it can cut like a sword (Matthew 10:34-39). Even our closest relationships can be severed by the truth of the gospel. This kind of rejection can feel pitilessly debilitating, but we can find comfort in that moment in our closeness with Christ (Matthew 5:11-12). “Rejoice and be glad!” We will pay a price for gospel faithfulness because we are living at odds with the world. In His goodness and grace, Jesus told us what to expect, but that doesn’t take away all the pain.
Don’t take it personally.
Easier said than done. Granted. Check out John 6. Jesus had some tough stuff to say, and many did not like it at all. Even the people who liked His miracles turned away. Do we expect different results? If people are turned off by the truth, God has simply not yet revealed that truth to their hearts. It’s not the right time, and only God controls the timing.
Submit your pain to God.
God created us for intimacy and for friendships, but sometimes even the best relationships can go south for a season. We’re dealing with sin, y’all, and it’s potent. It’s in me, and it’s in you, and it has infected everything. Pride and selfishness always stir the pot this side of Genesis 3.
And then there’s, just, life. “I didn’t get the job.” “She wanted to date other people.” “They liked another church better than ours.” “Nobody made room for me at the cool-kids table.” Ouch. But God’s Word reminds us that He heals our broken hearts … and binds our wounds … and never bails out on us. We have in Jesus a Friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).
And, in addition to all of that, we must never forget that our Lord felt the bitter sting of rejection worse than anyone else (Isaiah 53:3). Our God understands rejection like no one else! His followers ran away in droves. His friends deserted Him in fear. The professed religious “faithful” brutally attacked Him and charged Him with crimes He never committed.
But none of that pain compared with the mammoth sting of this: on Calvary’s Cross, Christ was rejected by His Father. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (Second Corinthians 5:21).
Don’t waste your rejection, friends. Worship through it!