Ephesians 4: 2-3
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Hebrews 4: 15
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.
Genesis 50: 19-21
Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
This week we have been exploring the issue of rejection, how it is something we will all experience throughout our lives, and how it can deeply impact our behaviour, confidence and relationships. So how do we deal with rejection? Can it be processed in a healthy way? A few thoughts:
(i) Be honest about our emotions. God created emotions, and we are emotional people made in His own image. They are an important part of our personalities, and the enemy therefore seeks to construct strongholds of wrong thinking in relation to them. If we repress or ignore negative emotions, we will only push the wound deeper into our souls, making it more difficult to identify and heal at a later stage. If you feel rejected or hurt, simply be honest about it. Joyce Meyer says this about negative emotions: "If you want to be free....you must be willing to confront them. You will never get free from them by running, avoiding or procrastinating. We must face issues...."
(ii) Bring the rejection before God. Bob Sorge says: "When we have been stung by rejection, we need to learn to retreat to the secret place, and be renewed and cleansed in the affections of our loving heavenly Father, the source of healing." Remember that Jesus knows what it is to be rejected, even by those closest to him. Isaiah tells us:
"He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem." (53: 3)
In bringing our hurts to Jesus, we come to one who is able to fully sympathise with us. (Heb 4: 15) Pour out your pain to Him, express honestly your disappointment, anger, sorrow, sadness or confusion. Beth Moore says this:
"If you’ve suffered a serious case of rejection, you need to make sure that you’re letting God tend to it.....Putting up a front doesn’t work. That neon light has a way of burning through every cover we throw on it. God knows exactly what happened and what a toll it took. He knows the number it played on your mind. Let Him bring you peace. Let Him tell you you’re worth wanting, loving, even liking, pursuing, fighting for, and, yes, beloved, keeping. Whatever you do, don’t reject the only One wholly incapable of rejecting you."
(iii) Choose to forgive those who rejected you. I know it's easier said than done, but with the Holy Spirit's help, you can let go of offense, anger, bitterness and resentment which will poison your soul and lead you into a place of torment. Follow the example of Jesus who, from the cross, prayed this in regard to his enemies: "Father, forgive them..." John Paul Jackson expresses the power of forgiveness: "Forgiveness is a balm to the wounded. For those of us who have experienced rejection, embracing the loving power of God’s forgiveness helps break the enemy’s debilitating stronghold of rejection in our lives."
(iv) Replace human rejection with God's total acceptance. Even though Jesus was pained by rejection, He was never embittered or offended by it. He had found a way to process rejection so that it stung Him without wounding Him. Bob Sorge says, "Rejection hurts, but it need not wound. It’s painful, but it doesn’t have to penetrate the heart. Rejection will always sting, but there is a healing balm. It is the unparalleled affection that the Father lavishes upon His children."
No matter what the source of the rejection, or the nature of the rejection, we have an incomparable depth of acceptance that flows from the heart of our heavenly Father. He accepts me when others reject me. He accepts me even when I fail. He accepts me even while I sin. He accepts me regardless of my spiritual performance. He accepts me based upon the finished work of Christ on the cross and no amount of external rejection can ever change that.
(v) Ask, how might this rejection be seen as something positive in my life? Perhaps the rejection is God's protection or redirection. It's like the story of the fish who was rejected by the fisherman. The fisherman threw him back into the water because he was too small. The fish took a big rejection from that, especially since his older brother was lying on the bottom of the boat, all accepted by the fisherman. What the little fish didn’t realize is that the rejection was a blessing.
In a similar way, rejection from others can be a blessing if we will allow it to release us into kingdom truth and freedom. Most of us can look back on past rejections from relationships or jobs and be thankful that they didn't work out because we wouldn't be enjoying the blessings we have today otherwise.
Also, it is possible that the rejection might bring forth the greatness hidden within you. For example, Christian physician and counselor, Paul Tournier, has made the startling observation that a large number of the world's greatest leaders had one thing in common: they shared the experience of emotional deprivation as children. The lack of acceptance in their formative years pushed them to achieve formidable success later in life.
Rejection will never be pleasant. It will sting. But it doesn't have to define or debilitate us. In fact, often on the other side of rejection lies blessing and opportunity. Think of Joseph in the Old Testament, rejected by his brothers and sold as a slave. He kept his heart right before God and ended up with great power, influence and prosperity. If we don't allow ourselves to get stuck in self-pity or offense, rejection can become God's direction into a destiny greater than we could have ever imagined.
We look forward to seeing you this Sunday at 9.30 am, 11.30 am and 7.00 pm.