The Remedy for RejectionApril 17, 2011 - 5:00 am
“Because of all my enemies,
I am the utter contempt of my neighbors
and an object of dread to my closest friends—
those who see me on the street flee from me.”—Psalm 31:11
Very few of us sail through life without experiencing some feelings of rejection. Maybe as a child you were excluded from a classmate’s birthday party or were the last one picked for kickball. Or maybe it was during those awkward adolescent years when you found yourself on the outside, not fitting into any group. As an adult, maybe you’ve felt the sting of rejection from someone you cared about, or the isolation that comes from an experience like losing your job.
David certainly felt that way at many points in his life, and in Psalm 31, he poured out the pain of one who has been despised, rejected, defamed, and persecuted. We can feel the depth of David’s angst as he wrote, “My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning” (v. 10). His enemies made him an object of contempt before his neighbors. Even David’s friends avoided him when they saw him on the streets. David lamented, “I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery” (v. 12).
When those feelings of rejection overwhelm us, it’s tempting to withdraw from others, including God. Our inclination is to look inward and focus on our pain and our sense of injustice and unfairness about our circumstances. It undoubtedly would have been easy for David to remain in that place of personal pain, too, and we would have understood. Look at how David responded instead.
In the midst of his lament, David broke out into praise: “I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul” (v.7), and again in verse 21, “Praise be to the LORD, for he showed me the wonders of his love.” Notice that David praised God in anticipation of God’s deliverance and in assurance of His love.
How could he do that? I think it is because David had completely committed his life to God. He entrusted his spirit to God (v.5), and therefore had complete confidence that God would care for him —no matter what the outcome. David wrote, “But I trust in you, LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands” (v. 15). Because of his ongoing relationship with God and his past expereinces, David knew that God was utterly faithful and worthy of all trust.
We can have that same trust in God’s love and protection as we commit ourselves fully to Him. In fact, David encourages all God’s faithful people to do just that: “The LORD preserves those who are true to him . . . . Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD” (v. 24).