Written By: Chris Mace
This bull moose is bellowing disappointment. His amorous advances have just been rejected. We all know how painful and devastating rejection can be. In fact, imaging studies have shown that rejection activates the same area in the brain activated by physical pain.
Rejection rears its head in various forms: misunderstandings, criticism, bullying, unreciprocated love, emotional and physical abandonment, social distancing, being overlooked for a desired or deserved position, failing to make the team, or being turned away from enrollment in the college of choice; and society is bursting with lack of civility, racial violence, political divisiveness, and wars.
Determination, perseverance, and belief in oneself may protect against the negative effects of rejection. Presumably, Walt Disney was fired from his first job for lack of imagination; Dr Seuss’ first manuscript was rejected 28 times; Thomas Edison was told he was “too stupid to learn.” However, what may be merely a challenge to some may have lasting, disorienting, emotional effects for others. Being overlooked, not wanted, not appreciated, unacceptable, and unworthy are devaluing, haunting emotions. Reliving the insult and focusing on its destabilizing pain can lead to post trauma anger, depression, violence, and even suicide.
However, rejection by men does not mean being spurned by God. Many Biblical leaders found themselves locked into controversies and personal rejection because of their faith and/or God’s providential working in their lives. Moses faced a national rebellion; Joseph was sold into slavery; Daniel was thrown to the lions; most of Jesus’ eleven disciples were murdered; Paul was persecuted by his fellow Jews. Hebrews 11:32-39 details the horrendous consequences which many old testament faithful suffered because of their faith, but their confident trust sustained them and kept them from despair and fear.
God never abandons His people. His love surpasses the deepest of human loves. These are truths embedded in biblical narratives and sacred songs: “The LORD will not reject his people; he will not abandon his special possession.” (Psalm 94:14) “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in. Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.” (Psalm 27:8-11) .The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” (Psalm 34:17-18)
God’s graciousness is found in His redemptive possibilities. There are no legal, moral, racial, ethnic restrictions or requirements for receiving redemption. It is for whosoever wills. God is unwilling that any should perish. And for those who accept his redemptive offer, there is no condemnation. (Romans 8:1) And “ nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39 (NLT2)
Although Jesus was always in His Father’s heart, “He came unto his own but his own received him not” (John 1:11). Even though he suffered much cruelty at the hands of others, there were no barriers to his compassion. When opposed, he was not vengeful but demonstrated grace, goodness, mercy, and truth. He even asked God’s forgiveness for those who crucified him. He lived with confidence that God had purposes for him as did the Apostle Paul, who endured hardship, persecution, and deprivation but never sensed rejection. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2Corinthians 4:6-9)
Those who choose faith in God and His solution for flawed and sinful natures will never be deserted but will find forgiveness, strength, comfort, peace, and confidence within even the most difficult circumstances. God’s grace is sufficient because His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
His promised Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall come not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:1-2)
We can be confident in God and His promises: “The LORD will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage” (Psalm 94:14).