The Truth About Rejection

by Andy Wood on June 12, 2015

in Five LV Laws, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Increase, Time, Waiting


Rejection is one of the most brutal experiences you and I can face.  To say it hurts like hell may not be far from the literal truth.

Psychologists have learned some things about rejection…

Research tells us that rejection travels the same neural pathways in the brain that physical pain does.  In other words, otherwise-unexplained physical pain may have been triggered by the experience or memory of rejection.

Rejection isolates us from people who didn’t reject us, unless we take steps to reconnect.

Rejection causes surges of anger and aggression (gangs, anyone?).

Finally, rejection makes us temporarily stupid.  It literally lowers your IQ and makes you unresponsive to reason for a time. (Translation:  Don’t make vows or major decisions – especially with the word “never” in it – after being rejected.)

In the biblical story of Joseph, you can find the roots of rejection, as I explored in the previous post.   Joseph lived a very uncertain childhood, marked by the death of his mother and the preferential doting of his dad.  He was a dreamer and, to his brothers, something of a goody-two-shoes. All of this set him up to be the objected of their jealousy and hatred.

What no one knew at the time, however, was that rejection can serve as a trap door, straight into the arms (and plans) of God.  And that’s where Joseph learned the truth about rejection.

1. Rejection can lead us to the real source of security.

The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master (Genesis 39:2).

Now there’s an odd couple.  The Lord and his Egyptian master?  You mean the Lord can show up at the butt end of evil institutions?  Yes, He can and does.  And there’s a lesson here.

Real security isn’t found in the acceptance of, or even the presence of people.  Even if Joseph’s mother hadn’t died, and even if his brothers had completely accepted him, that was no guarantee that Joseph wouldn’t feel rejected anyway.  In the world of humans, life is temporary and favor is fickle.  The real source of security is found in the presence of God.

We sometimes love to spout off that “Jesus is all we need” or whatever.  But life, lust and longing being what they are, sometimes we don’t discover Jesus is all we need until Jesus is all we have.  When Joseph had nothing left but a job to do and a God to know, his life was never the same, despite the adversities he faced later.

2. Rejection can serve us by exposing our presumption on others.

No one could ever accuse even young Joseph of being an evil twit.  He couldn’t help his father’s preferential treatment, and his dreams came from God.

Naïve?  A little presumptuous?  That’s another story.

Joseph happily shared his story with his family about those prophetic dreams – as in, the ones where they’re all bowing down to him.  Not his finest or wisest hour.

This is where rejection can become our friend if we let it, painful as it may be.  Sometimes we assume things in relationships we may have a right to assume, but wouldn’t be wise to assume.  Joseph may have had the right to share the facts about his dreams, but he was unwise to assume everybody else would be as thrilled as he was.

You may have the right to assume that people should respect and obey your authority or position, too.  But the minute you make demands on that, or assume you deserve it, you’re setting yourself up for rejection. What’s sad in relationships is that we repeat the error – in families, in the workplace, in the worship centers – because we don’t see the connection between somebody distancing themselves from us and our acting like a mule.

3. Rejection teaches us the futility of self-confidence.

What you interpret as rejection may be God protecting you from the utter destruction that self-trust can bring.  Imagine Joseph having these dreams, legitimately from God, but having no direction as to how to get there.

He may have assumed, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me!”

He may have started taking a logical, linear path to get there.

He may have entangled himself in a thousand stupid choices, pocked with earthly “wisdom.”

But in one angry afternoon, his brothers made other arrangements.  And Joseph learned the hard way that gifted men without the power and presence of God are not to be trusted… especially when they’re tempted to trust themselves.

4. Rejection is often God’s way of testing our vision.

What follows is a series of other events – all unjust, all at the hands of manipulative, dishonest, forgetful people. For years Joseph languished, mostly in prison. And what of those dreams?

Yeah, that.

Joseph’s dreams were valid.  But an untested dream has no compelling power.

If what you call a vision from God can’t survive the attacks of the unbelieving, the manipulations of the self-interested, or the follies of the forgetful, then it isn’t much of a vision.  Joseph never had a kingdom of his own. But his dreams came true exactly as he envisioned them.

5. Rejection puts us on God’s timetable.

Joseph’s story is a continual reminder that life is hardly ever linear, much as we may want it to be.  Yes, you have to plan Step 1, followed by Step 2, followed by Step 3. Just don’t be surprised if God puts you on the scenic path – or a zipline – to get there.

What you interpret as rejection may be God telling you to wait.  Yeah, there it is… God’s “four letter word.”

What you interpret as rejection may be God telling you to gird up – it’s showtime… now.

The most important thing in such a season is to connect – and stay connected – to Him.  Listen for His voice.  Stay upon his name and promises.  Believe in His kind intentions toward you, regardless of the evil intentions of others.

Yes, rejection hurts.  But in the wake of it, you can “trace the rainbow through the rain” and find in the presence and purpose of God a love that will never let you go… and a determination that He will finish what he started in you.

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