Lately as I continued reading an excellent book about rejection and contemplated the issue, I focused on how a certain person repeatedly rejects me. Then God suggested a question I need to ask myself.
How have you been rejecting him?
Over the years I tended to look only at how I felt rejected and how this individual needed to straighten up and stop rejecting me so often.
But as I looked at my own actions one evening, I saw how easily I slipped into rejection mode.
It doesn’t matter if he rejected me first. What’s essential to embrace is that sometimes his rejections of me came in response to my rejection of him. Other times I answered his rejection of me with rejection, which only makes matters worse and dishonors God.
I can’t keep others from rejecting me, but I can choose not to have a negative response when they do.
As I made an inventory of the people in my life that I felt had deeply hurt me, I saw that I also mistreated most of them in some way. I found myself making excuses for my hurtful ways while magnifying theirs.
Two verses came to mind as I meditated about this matter.
“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9 NIV
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
Routinely I reject the Lord by neglecting to spend time with Him, failing to obey Him, and refusing to receive all He has for me. Yet He does not reject me in return.
Isaiah 53:3 says this about Jesus:
“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.”
Although Jesus didn’t reject others, He was rejected—here it says “by mankind.” But even on the cross where rejection from others led to His death, He forgave instead of answering rejection with rejection.
I’ve discovered I tend to be blind to my rejecting ways, and I don’t respond to rejection like Jesus did. I respond naturally when the Lord desires and requires a supernatural response.
Another truth that God showed me lately is that I often have a bitter, hardened heart toward those who have hurt me. I conclude my hard heart protects me from further hurt. Instead it keeps me from getting close to others and to God. This truth hit me in regard to hard hearts: Hardened hearts can only reject. Even if my rejections aren’t acted out, they still hurt the relationships in my life, and when my heart is hard, I’m not being like Jesus.
Just as I can be blind to my rejecting ways, I can also be oblivious to the hardness that is taking place in my heart.
In Scripture hardness of heart is described as “stubbornness and perversity.” (See Matthew 19:8 Amplified Bible Classic)
It breaks my heart to see that I still battle stubbornness and perversity which the dictionary defines as “a deliberate desire to behave in an unreasonable or unacceptable way; contrariness.”
What I want to be is to be more like Jesus: “gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart. (Matthew 11:29)
The only way for that to happen is to spend more time with Him and in the Word, so He can transform me, continuing the process to make me more like Him.
Lysa TerKeurst gives some instruction on becoming more like Jesus in her book, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out and Lonely:
“Though my circumstances may not change today, my outlook surely can. I will not run. I will rise above. I will trust God’s will above my desires. I will let truth free my soul from past hurts. I will step into today’s destiny. And in the doing of this, I see His flicker of light, and a pulse of divine hope courses through my heart. (Kindle 4001)
She also says, “The most frustrated people are those who feel their lives can only improve when others put forth the necessary effort to make things better.” (How often I’ve been stuck there.) That’s problematic since we can’t control others. A more productive view of change is to look at ways we need to change.”
God knows I want to change. He’s already brought me so far. Yet I long to stop answering rejection with rebellion. My desire is to rise about bitterness, pride, and excuse-making.
Yes, I’ve made some progress, but God continues to take me down some of the same paths, so I can see that I’m still not finished learning—that I have a ways to go.
I’m praising Him that even as I learn the hard lessons He shows me, He overflows with mercy toward me. He understands my weaknesses. And He wants me to view others in the same way.
God help me. And let my hope be in You alone.
“Rise” by Danny Gokey