Day 36 of Lent, Psalm 42:
Have you ever experienced rejection? I imagine you have. It is one thing, when the rejection is from an acquaintance or someone you don’t know very well, and it is another thing, when it from someone close. Have you have been rejected by a family member, a friend, or someone you respect? It is difficult to remove the feelings of hurt and move on. I had a close friend who I had spent lots of time with in middle school and in the beginning of high school. We shared many good memories, boy problems, secret passed notes (before texting) and lots of middle school emotions and tears. I even went on a few trips with her. She was a good friend. I moved away in high school, but while in college she visited a mutual friend. I still remember the cold blank stare, the indifferent attitude and short, one-word answers– as I attempted to reconnect with her during lunch at my sorority house. Something had changed and I began to feel the weight of the emotions of rejection.
Rejection can be a dark time. It makes me feel insecure, doubtful and even a little despairing. Then follows with questions like, “What did I do? What could I have done differently? What is wrong with me?” This was not the first or last time to experience this sort of thing. Even though it was painful, I am now thankful for it. Let me explain why…
Rejection of the crowd
One thing, among many, that sticks out to me during these final days before Easter is the rejection Jesus experienced. Readily, I think of the rejection by the religious leaders and by the crowds when they shouted, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” A few days before they had been waving palm branches, exclaiming, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” Next, they are crying out for His death. That kind of rejection and fickleness would be painful, extremely painful.
Rejection of friends
But, what about Jesus’ friends? Where were they? They had walked many miles and spent countless hours with him. They had the benefit of eating with Him, being with him up close continually, talking with Him all times of the day and in all kinds of situations. They were present for the many miracles, the teaching and parables, and for many quiet moments together. They endured the crowds, the scoffers, storms, living without a home and away from family.
His friends though, were weak. In the garden, they couldn’t stay awake even to keep Him company or to pray during His most trying time. When the crowd came to arrest Jesus, Mark 14 says this:
And they all left Him and fled.
Think about that for a second. His closest friends left Him. The ones He spent the last three years with day and night, fled. Those He knew well and loved, rejected Him.
God’s presence in rejection
In Psalm 42, David feels despair and hopeless, and also a longing for God. If you know anything about David, you probably know that He was chosen by God to be God’s anointed king, yet David at times was rejected by Saul and others. In the middle of his despair, he writes this:
Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed with me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence….
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.
God’s presence is the hope we need for our countenance. Rejection is painful and dark, yet God never rejects us. His presence goes with us. When David is rejected, He cries out to God and remembers His presence.
Jesus told His disciples that they would scatter and leave Him, yet the Father would be with Him; therefore, He will not be alone. The Father is present. He also tells the disciples that when he leaves, He will not leave them alone as orphans, but will send the Helper. He will be present with them. Jesus left them but gave them His presence.
Why I am thankful
I am not alone. I am never alone. Rejection seems to be telling me that I am alone, and to despair (like David talked about). Yet, David had hope in God’s presence. Somehow, God being present made a difference. What do you think? Even in rejection, clinging and remembering the nearness of God, brings hope and comfort that is lasting and abiding. It makes His presence all the sweeter.
There are times also, we may feel alone in our rejection, “Who can really understand?” Jesus does understand. The one who was perfect, undeserving of rejection, was rejected. His closest friends left him alone during His hour of greatest need. He knows and cares. He wants us to be our comfort– lasting and abiding comfort.
Even though I hate rejection, I am thankful that God is present. In the pain and emotion of it, I really can find Him and experience life. For He gives hope for tomorrow. In the mix of the painful, dark emotions, I really can have love and acceptance– for He is with me. This is the kind of thing I want to know– His presence. Sometimes we can only truly discover it, when we have been completely rejected by others.