He was despised and rejected–a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. –Isaiah 53:3 (NLT)
Have you ever noticed how rejection is such a consistent part of life?
Having been a youth pastor for more than two decades, I know a lot about this. Rejection and youth ministry are synonymous. Teenagers can be incredibly blunt. Many don’t fully realize that adults have feelings. They tell you exactly what they think and often don’t pull any punches when it comes to tact. For years, I regularly heard statements like these:
• “My mom said she likes your new haircut. But I think it looks stupid.”
• “I brought my friend to hear you speak last week. You weren’t very good.”
• “I used to think you were kind of an attractive sort of dad-type…until last week’s waterslide trip, when I saw you in your bathing suit.”
And so it went.
Apart from my experiences working with teenagers, I’ve battled for years with feelings of low self-worth and fear of rejection. I think a lot of us do, whether we admit it or not. Battling rejection is a constant struggle in life.
Maybe right now you’re feeling rejected. You put your time, talent, or treasure forward and it wasn’t received the way you had hoped. Maybe you’re angry at the person who rejected you–and fearful that someone else will do it again. Maybe you’re annoyed that your efforts weren’t received like they should have been. Maybe you’re simply sad–sad for the way things could have been. If only you hadn’t been rejected…
One of the saddest things about living with rejection is that often we develop a skewed understanding about God. We start to think that He’s always sitting on our shoulders, ready and eager to bust our chops for any infraction of the rules. We forget that He loves us and that His love is abundant and complete.
I’m telling you that God isn’t about rejection, regardless of your performance or lack of it. He loves the whole world–that’s why He sent His only Son, Jesus. Whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life (John 3:16). He doesn’t care if you have a big nose or can’t play baseball or failed your geometry test or want to talk more than your husband wants to listen. His arms are always open wide.
And one of the amazing things about Jesus is that He understands what it feels like to be rejected. Though he was perfect, He was still despised and rejected. If you’ve been rejected, know that you are in good company. You’re not alone. Jesus knows exactly what you’re going through.
Experiencing rejection in this life is inevitable. The pain of rejection is real. But, so is the unlimited love and comfort of Jesus. Don’t wallow in the mud of rejection. Run to Jesus. He’s waiting with open arms.
1. When you experience rejection, would you characterize your typical response as healthy or unhealthy? Why?
2. How can knowing that Jesus understands the pain of rejection make it easier to turn to Him for comfort?
John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 1:3-5; Matthew 11:28-30