Many of us, at some point in life, have experienced rejection – whether by a family member, friend, social group, or institution. Rejection is powerful; and the effects of rejection can last the entirety of, and adversely affect the quality of, one’s life.
According to Dr. Guy Winch: Rejection piggybacks on physical pain pathways in the brain; and because of this Tylenol can reduce the emotional pain rejection causes – studies have demonstrated that years after an experience of great physical pain, we are not able to readily recall the pain itself; yet, recalling rejection will bring back not only the emotional pain, but also the physiological symptoms as well.
Rejection creates the feeling that we do not belong, stimulating anger and aggression. Rejection can destroy our self-esteem; it temporarily lowers our IQ, impairing our ability to respond to reason. Most often we turn the experience of rejection in on ourselves, rather than turning our attention to the Lord in those moments.
Ishmael and Hagar
In Genesis 21:1-21, in the course of a day, Ishmael the son of Abraham, is rejected by Sarah, Abraham, and briefly Hagar. In that short span of time, Ishmael is left utterly alone.
Yet, from Heaven the Lord hears Ishmael’s cries, sending his messenger to assure Hagar about Ishmael. In her aguish, she is willing to let her son die, yet heaven intervenes.
The angel says: כִּי-שָׁמַע אֱלֹהִים אֶל-קוֹל הַנַּעַר בַּאֲשֶׁר הוּא-שָׁם, “For the Lord has heard the voice of the boy where he is, in his situation.”
Hearing this, Hagar’s eyes are opened, she sees a well, and Ishmael matures with the Lord’s promised blessing. The Lord saw, and tended to their plight: healing their rejection.
Rejection of any sort can be devastating; but personal rejection by a friend or family member hurts more than rejection by an enemy or an impersonal institution. This rejection is often sudden, unexpected, and leaves one feeling isolated from the social group around us. It may be said, the deeper the relationship, the deeper the pain.
Still, the Lord does not want us to turn rejection in on ourselves; but rather, recognize that He knows our situation and is moving us to the next place of blessing – the well – in our lives.
What does the Word of God say about rejection?
Psalm 27:10, “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.”
Luke 10:16, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
I Peter 5:7, “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
Psalm 94:14, “For the Lord will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance.”
John 15:18, “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you.”
I John 3:1, “See how much the Father has loved us! His love is so great that we are called God’s children – and so, in fact, we are. This is why the world does not know us: it has not known God.”
We find in this excruciatingly painful text (Gen. 21:1-21) that Ishmael had to be rejected in order to reach the place where the Lord wanted to bless him. We learn from this, that an experience of rejection is a time of redirection by the Lord, if we receive it in faith, as Paul says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Ro. 8:28-29).
All things, including rejection; why, because Messiah Yeshua bore our rejection on the Cross. As Isaiah 53:3 says, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”
He was rejected by His friends, He was rejected by His hometown, He was rejected by strangers, and He bore the full weight of our rejection and cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me.” His rejection on the Cross, ultimately led to the blessing of many.
Rejection, no matter how painful, will always lead to blessing when we remember that He sees us in our situation; and in that situation He will send the comforters, He will send exactly what we need: that feeling of love and support that is so needed.
Your experience of rejection, no matter how painful, will be a source of blessing for you and others, if you allow the Lord to direct your steps in the healing process.
Dr. Art Lindsey writes, “Fear creates what is feared. The more we fear doing poorly on a test, the more likely we will freeze and do poorly. The more you fear rejection, the more unnaturally you will act, raising the likelihood of being rejected. But the more you love someone without concern for your own appearance, the more likely you will be accepted. Fear faces inward. It focuses on what will happen to you if you fail the test. Love faces outward. It focuses on caring for the other person more than you care for yourself. The more you look outward, the less you look inward. The more you love, the less you fear.”
As we know, perfect love casts out all fear, and that perfect love has come to us by Messiah Yeshua. So live without fear of rejection. Love with a godly love, without concern for appearance.
And always remember, that your God is greater than the rejection you experienced, and that He has rescued you from it, healed you from it, and will direct you away from it. He brought you to the well of salvation: Yeshua/Jesus.
Be well. Shalom.