Rejection is a powerful experience.
Inside of us are longings for acceptance and worth. We want to matter to someone or something. We want to feel loved by another individual. We want to feel valuable to a company, organization, or church. We want to have a sense of true belonging.
Rejection shakes those pursuits. It causes us to question our core.
I have seen individuals wrestle in the wake of rejection. I have counseled people in the emotional aftermath of a job loss or breakup. A person fell in love only to find one day the other person decides to end the relationship. A man works at a company for twenty-five years only to show up to his job one day and be informed that he is fired. A parent tries to repair a damaged relationship with a child only to be scorned.
There are numerous reasons we don’t like rejection. There is a loss of control as rejection is not up to us but rather up to someone else. It is a blow to our ego in that we are viewed as not adequate. It shakes our courage as we put ourselves out there only to have our emotions dashed. It hinders our trust by causing us to question the relationship or the possibility of a future one.
As I think about this common human experience, a few thoughts come to mind.
- Christ understands rejection. Jesus was rejected by his closest friends. The cross was an experience of abandonment and rejection. He was alone. He was forsaken. In the midst of our rejection, we can find one who fully understands these emotions.
- Rejection is NOT the final word. Jesus died. Jesus rose from the grave. Even though rejection surrounded his death, it did not have the final word. Hope emerged from his death. Oftentimes the moment of rejection feels like the end of the world. It is not. There is hope that emerges on the other side as new relationships are formed and new opportunities are opened.
- Rejection is not absolute. Loneliness and frustration are normal. However, they are not the true reality as believers. We might feel alone. In truth, we are never alone. The hope of the cross is the promise that we will never be forsaken. God is with us in these emotions.
Rejection is part of life. However, it is not the essence of our life – that is found in Christ Jesus who absorbed the rejection of the world in its totality and flipped it on its head by extending grace to the very ones who abandoned him. Christ brought redemption from the pain of rejection. And so, for us, there is always hope even and especially in the midst of these experiences.