Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Pain of Rejection

Recess was my favorite part of the day when I was a student at Neason Hill Elementary School in Meadville, Pennsylvania. My sixth grade teacher, Mr. Bender, would take us out to the playground to play softball every afternoon. Mr. Bender and Mr. Lebonowski would submit captains and players would alternately be chosen. The chubby kid with the coke bottle glasses was never chosen, he was always relegated to the bench as an “assistant coach.” The look on his face revealed the pain of feeling rejected.

What must it feel like to save and save, buy the diamond, fall to one knee and make a proposal only to hear her say, “You’re so sweet but….”? My missionary brother in Japan tells me that it is not uncommon for young Japanese students to step in front of the trains because of the futility they feel after being rejected by the better universities. Al Gore felt rejection when he lost the election of 2000. Elin Nordegren felt rejection when she discovered her husband, Tiger Woods, was having multiple affairs. Rejection brings unspeakable pain. Who can doubt the prevalence of the pain of rejection when 50% of American marriages end in divorce?

I watched a television program the other night showing the reactions of spouses who had been rejected. I saw women smash out the windows of a car with a baseball bat. I saw a man take his girlfriend’s car into the countryside and destroy it with an AK47. Every two hours in the United States a person under the age of 25 commits suicide because they feel the pain of having been rejected by a spouse, a boyfriend or girlfriend or a parent.

It is painful to be rejected but nothing can compare to the pain of being rejected by God. I was reading about this pain today in the 16th chapter of Samuel. God came to his faithful prophet and told Samuel, “It’s time to get over Saul, I have rejected him….” (1 Sam. 16:1) Saul was rejected because he chose to disobey God. The bottom line, he loved himself more than he loved God and that is grounds for rejection.

Because of the uncompromising nature of God he will always reject those who fail to love and obey him. But, God’s nature also makes a provision for us. We can reverse the rejection of God by repenting of our sins and choosing to love Christ more than we love ourselves. Our repentance would have no meaning had the Father not loved us so much that he provided his only Son to be the sacrifice necessary to allow us to exchange repentance for salvation.

I’ve felt the pain of being rejected by God but I’ve also felt the euphoric joy of being chosen. Saul was rejected, David was chosen, not because he was a perfect man. David committed adultery and even murder. David was chosen because his heart was broken when he sinned against the God he loved. He was chosen because he repented of his sin, he turned from adultery and murder and as far as the records show, he was never involved in those sins again.

We’ve all been rejected. Our sin makes rejection unavoidable. But the good news is that we can be chosen by putting our trust in the shed blood of Jesus Christ and repenting of our sins.

Saul was rejected. David was chosen. Samuel was sent.

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