I have “issues”. According to my psychiatrist, as a result of childhood abuse I have issues with abandonment, rejection and neglect. These issues, when added to the normal stress of life, result in another issue- anxiety disorder. My anxiety disorder manifests itself primarily through irritability, which is an issue for my family. Apparently even my issues have issues!
When I reflect on my childhood and the lasting effects of being raised by parents who were unable to provide normal safety and security, I think of how painful rejection is in general. We are people created by God, designed to live in relationship with others. The God who looked at Adam and said, “It is not good for man to be alone”, was obviously correct in His analysis. We need other people if we are to live healthy and productive lives, yet as a result of the sin and brokenness that characterizes all humanity we all experience rejection and isolation.
It seems to me that the odds of rejection are increased for those value-driven people of faith who have a strong commitment to living in truth. There are many people in the world who feel uncomfortable being around good people, as their selfish behavior seems so bad by comparison.
This observation is not unique to me, I glean it from Scripture. Near the end of his life the Apostle Paul was in prison for his faith. While there he wrote a letter to his protégé Timothy. Near the end of the letter Paul wrote about his loneliness and sense of abandonment and asked Timothy to make an effort to come visit him-
"Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me." Tim 4:9-11 NIV
My eyes are drawn to his description of the actions of Demas, a former friend and partner in Paul’s ministry (You will find his name listed among those serving with Paul at the conclusion of Paul’s letter to the Colossian church). Paul stated succinctly why Demas had abandoned him. Demas loved the pleasures of life, the temporary things that life had to offer. Paul’s life was about eternity, about serving God. Demas decided he wanted his pleasure now and as a result abandoned his friend.
We learn from this that sometimes people do not abandon us because of something bad in us, but instead because of the good in us and the bad in them. It is easy (especially as a child) to experience rejection and ask, “What did I do wrong?” This is a good question, but it sometimes needs to be combined with another, “What did I do right?”
What do we do when we are rejected for doing right? How do we handle that pain? I try to gain comfort in the knowledge that God understands, for Jesus Himself was rejected and abandoned by His friends. I gain further comfort in the promise that God made to Joshua, and by extension to all who follow Him-
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deut 31:8 NIV
Feeling down and alone? Send me a message, I would love to pray for you! Have any words of encouragement for those who may be hurting? Please share in the comments. Know someone who may be helped by this post? Click a button below and share it. As always, remember you can have all posts delivered to your inbox by clicking on the “Subscribe” button.