Feeling Rejected by God
Has God Really Forsaken You?
Could You Be Damned And Without Hope?
God has rejected me! There is hardly a Christian on the planet who has not at some time been haunted by that fear. Feeling rejected by anyone is painful, but for a devout Christian to feel rejected by God can be devastating, even terrifying.
In this webpage we will discover that not only did people in the Bible suffer such feelings, it is actually a manifestation of God’s loving goodness. As astounding as it seems, it was feeling that God had rejected them that catapulted various Bible heroes to spiritual greatness. They became heaven’s superstars precisely because God made everything seem hopeless for them. You will even discover that the Bible teaches that even if you were to receive an authentic – that’s right, authentic – personal word from God proclaiming that you are doomed, you still have oceans of hope.
Through reading this webpage most of us will see God in a way we have never before seen him and the result will be both thrilling and life-changing.
God is terrifyingly holy and yet more loving than we could imagine. The Almighty’s fearsome holiness can force him to reluctantly reject people, but a person’s sin is the sole reason for any divine rejection. So if you or I could truly be made as if we had never messed up, any reason for the Holy Lord rejecting us would vanish. All that would be left is God’s incomprehensible love for you.
You might be familiar with some of the words in the next few sentences, but bear with me. It will lead to the unfamiliar. It has rightly been said that the biblical term justified means to be made just as if I’d never sinned. If this were really to happen to you this instant, it would be impossible for you to be rejected by the God of the Bible, since it would remove the only reason for divine rejection.
The exciting thing is that Scripture promises that this total removal of sin is possible – not just some time in the past when your sins were less blatant, but right now, when you have abused the grace of God more than ever before. Moreover, the Bible not only says that anyone can be justified, it stresses that this divine miracle becomes ours not by works – not influenced by our achievements or shameful repeated failures or depravity – but solely by faith. This being so, we need a new understanding of the biblical conception of faith. So let’s examine what Jesus exalted as a prime example of faith. It reveals some startling things.
Matthew 15:22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” (23) Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” (24) He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (25) The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. (26) He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” (27) “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” (28) Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
We find the woman pleading with Jesus, detailing her desperate plight to him. Without so much as uttering a word, he turns his back on her and walks away.
Despite reeling in the pain of rejection and being emotionally flattened by the hopelessness of it all, she still follows Jesus, crying out to him.
As if Jesus’ reaction were not enough, his chosen followers soon pile on their own rejection. Her persistence so annoys them that Jesus’ disciples plead with him to tell her to get lost. So Jesus tells her that his divine mission – the command of God on his life – is to minister exclusively to Jews, not Gentiles like her. Instead of resigning herself to the sovereign will of God, she begs even harder. Jesus is unyielding. He states even more emphatically that it was not right for him to do what she is asking.
This woman was a Gentile before Jesus’ sacrifice opened the way for Gentiles to be included in God’s Covenant. But not only was she a Gentile, she was a Canaanite – the worst of the Gentiles. She should not even have been born. Had God’s people been obedient to God’s command, her family line would have been wiped out generations ago.
Then, as astounding as it is to imagine our loving Savior doing this, he seals his rejection by calling her a dog – a bitch, if you like. This was the grossest possible insult. Jews despised dogs as unclean. Jesus refers to the people he is called to minister to as “children.” She, however, he labels as not even human but an animal – and an unclean one at that. On another occasion Jesus said it is not right to give what is holy to dogs, nor to cast one’s pearls to swine. Not only did Jesus say it should not be done, in the same breath he linked dogs with pigs, as does Scripture elsewhere. So, in biblical thought, dogs are the most repulsive of creatures, totally unacceptable to God, and yet this is the label Jesus slaps on this woman.
By now her devastating feelings of rejection could have turned to anger and a determination to reject Jesus like he has rejected her. Yet despite all the pressure to give in to feelings of hopelessness and bitterness, she still refuses to take ‘No’ for an answer.
Why was Jesus so hard on her? Because he knew she had what it takes to rise to the challenge and that her doing so would bring her rich reward. Jesus’ seeming rejection brought out the best in her. Yes, she got her miracle like so many other people, but because Jesus let her seemingly suffer rejection, she soared far beyond getting her miracle to gaining Jesus’ high praise resounding through the tunnels of time for two thousand years around the world and continuing for all eternity. Her refusal to accept Jesus’ apparent rejection not only thrilled the heart of God, it has inspired countless multitudes of Christians throughout every successive generation.
And the same is true for you. God has faith in you. You can rise to the challenge and refuse to be defeated by all the surface indications of rejection. You can ignore all the worrying superficialities and by faith see past them to the loving heart of Jesus. You can keep following Jesus even when he seems to have turned his back on you and walked away. And as you persist, you will thrill the heart of God, gain for yourself eternal glory, and inspire other Christians.
Singled Out for Special Rejection
The Canaanite woman’s experience was not an isolated case. For assurance, let’s consider another woman. Ruth was not just a Gentile; she was a Moabite, and as such she was singled out for special rejection from God.
Deuteronomy 23:3 No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, even down to the tenth generation. . . . (6) Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them as long as you live.
How’s that for rejection! In contrast, this Scripture immediately goes on to mention other Gentiles, saying there was more hope even for them than for anyone with Ruth’s ancestry:
Deuteronomy 23:7 Do not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother. Do not abhor an Egyptian, because you lived as an alien in his country. (8) The third generation of children born to them may enter the assembly of the LORD.
Ruth wanted to join the Israelites, but every indication was that God did not want her. Her only contact with God’s people had been with a family who seemed cursed. They had arrived in her country as economic refugees – hardly a sign of God’s blessing. Moreover, their impoverishment – due to God withholding rain – had forced them out of the land of God’s people. Then, one by one, every male member of the family died, including Ruth’s own husband. Then the surviving family member said:
Ruth 1:11 . . . “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? . . . (13) . . . the LORD’s hand has gone out against me!”
Over and over, Naomi kept insisting that it was unwise for her daughters-in-law to go with her to the land of God’s people. They would be better off where they were. Eventually, Ruth’s sister-in-law gave in to Naomi’s pleas. Ruth, however, kept pushing through all the objections and rejections. The result? God chose her over all the women in Israel as ancestress of King David and of the Messiah.
It is said if you take pity on a moth struggling to break free from its cocoon and make its passage out easier, the moth will be forever deformed. What seems an act of kindness ends up being cruel. The hard struggle to emerge is essential for the initial pumping of blood into its crumpled wings. I don’t know enough about moths to know if this is an urban myth, but I know my Lord well enough to be certain that if he makes something hard for us, it is for our own good. It is because making it easier would ultimately be less loving and cripple our spiritual development.
Like a good coach giving an athlete tough training sessions, God makes it hard for you because he longs for you to succeed.
I know this because I know God is love. Scour the planet, seeking the purest, selfless compassion. When at last you’ve found this rare and priceless treasure, blend in full-blooded passion. Add empathy – the ability to feel other people’s pain and their every emotion. Stir into the mixture flawless wisdom. Then multiply the result to infinity. What you now have is a shadow of God’s love. God is warm, passionate, highly personal and yet consistent and utterly dependable. His intelligence soars far too high above us for his ways to be predictable by mere humans, but his loving heart never changes. Everything God does – even his anger and judgments – is driven by love. Behind his every action beats a tender heart that longs to forgive and bless.
My certainty that God is like this is not book knowledge – though Bible knowledge was the critical starting point – it is something I know in every cell of my body. This unshakable conviction became mine only by enduring years and years of tough times. I cannot give you your certainty about God’s nature. I could hand you spiritual maturity no more than I could hand you physical maturity. It only comes through prolonged experience with God. It slowly forms after years of feeling you are forever hanging on by your fingernails to what seem almost unbelievable Bible truths. There are no shortcuts. What I can do in this webpage, however, is share some of those Bible truths and urge you to hold on in the exciting, hair-raising, and sometimes lonely, roller coaster ride to joy and fulfillment.
The process whereby hard times slowly transform Bible knowledge into heart knowledge is difficult to explain. For insight into one aspect of the process, we must understand that immature Christians tend to be spiritual honeymooners who think they are in love with God but are actually more in love with his gifts that anything else. The trials I have endured have refined my love for God. I no longer need God to bribe me to keep me loving him. By holding on to God when there seemed no obvious benefits, my love has become genuine. You, too, can reach that point by clinging to God when the illusion is strong that he seems to favor everyone but you.