Everyone has felt rejection. For many it is first encountered on the playground. Children choosing their friends or choosing teams until one remains, unchosen, unwanted, rejected. We discover life can be like musical chairs. When the music stops there is no place to sit. All the included places are taken.
Sometimes it comes with our first applications for college. For a few, colleges and universities line up with scholarships and offers, but most must deal with rejection. Most of us have known the uncertainty of a job search. The series of rejections from interviews can be devastating to our ego. Forced into a situation where self-confidence is essential, we become anything but.
Door-to-door salesmen are familiar with rejection. It is part of the job. So are politicians and would-be writers. How many ways can we be turned down and rejected?
Perhaps most devastating of all is a rejection by those who are close to us. The rejection of a mother or father, son or daughter, or spouse. These can cause wounds that last a lifetime.
It might help to realize we have company. When we are rejected we are not alone.
When Herman Melville wrote “Moby Dick,” his work was turned down by multiple publishers. It was finally accepted by Bentley & Son who asked, “Does it have to be a whale?” Nevertheless they published the classic on the condition that Melville pay for the typesetting and plating himself. When 25-year-old Ernest Hemingway wrote “The Sun also Rises” one publisher responded, “I found your efforts to be both tedious and offensive.”
In the Old Testament, Joseph was rejected by his brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt; in the New Testament, Paul was rejected often, stoned and left for dead, driven from city to city and imprisoned. Jesus’ own brothers refused to believe in him and his closest disciples abandoned him. He was “despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3).
But, when we experience rejection by family, friends or the world, we can rest knowing that there is One who will not abandon us. “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:15-16).
Jesus constantly included those who were rejected: the Samaritan woman, Zacchaeus, the blind beggar, the woman caught in the act of adultery, lepers and the Gadarene demoniac. Though others might reject you, Jesus will by no means turn you away. If we come to him in simple faith and confession, He will receive us.
We can say with the Apostle Paul, “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:5-6)
— Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experience from a faith perspective. This week’s column is written in response to a reader’s request. To suggest a subject, email firstname.lastname@example.org.