Have you ever prayed so fervently for God’s blessing and favor over your child, only to find your lifted-up request goes unanswered?
We have all experienced a door being slammed in our face. Rejection is part of our lives. However, nothing prepared me as a parent for the heartache of watching my own children being told “no, not this time.” As they begin to go after their own desires, such sports teams, clubs, sororities, internships, or jobs, there have been times when the rejection seemed like a revolving door of unsuccessful attempts. “Why God?” I cry out into my pillow, when the answer continues to be “no” even when I have prayed specifically over my children.
Like a broken record, I have repeatedly whispered God’s assurance to them that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. I see their beauty, gifts, and talents. When the world rejects them, it is difficult to understand why others don’t see the same magnificence as I do. But then I hear the Lord whisper:
“This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord you God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Rejection is tough no matter who you are, but to watch our children traverse it is like no other pain. The world tells us rejection must mean we aren’t good enough. We should be more outgoing, dress differently, or speak differently. Rejection punches us in the gut and can make our knees buckle.
As I ponder this hurt, God has a funny way of circling back around with His truth. Rejection is an integral part of God’s word and tells us something entirely differently about the word “no.”
In the Old Testament God made a covenant with Abraham. He promised Abraham a great nation would come from him and all the people would be blessed through him. The only catch to this promise being fulfilled was Abraham had to walk away from the familiar. He had to leave everything he knew and loved, turning his back on his people and rejecting his family to follow God.
Through the Israelites’ oppression by the Egyptians and God’s orchestrated exodus to the promised land, rejection was a headline feature in their journey. As a matter of fact, the Old Testament is filled with a familiar tune of the Israelites’ rejection of God, their repentance, and God’s renewal. Their rejection of God was on spin cycle. They thought every judge and king who was anointed to lead them would be the promised one to save them. The Israelites continued to put their hope in earthly leadership, continually rejecting God.
But even with the continued rejection from His chosen ones, God was never deterred from his promise of a deliverer. Only in God’s timing would the promised seed enter the world, and once Jesus began his ministry, his fate at the cross drew near.
“He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt and prayed. “Father if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” Luke 22:41-43
The weight of his mission laid heavily on him in the Garden of Gethsemane as he cried out to God to take away his yoke. In the same breath, though, he exclaimed, “Not my will but yours.” God rejected Jesus’ prayer, the prayer of his one and only son in order to give humanity hope. Although Jesus’s prayer was not answered in the way he asked, God did strengthen Jesus for his journey to the cross. Even in the rejection of Jesus’ prayer, there was greater good in God’s will for Jesus to reconcile us with God through his horrific death.
Even Jesus’ disciples had prayers stamped with “no” by God. Paul asked three times for a thorn in his flesh to be taken from him, but God said “no:”
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)
Even though God refused Paul’s request, He promised to carry Paul through the difficult trials caused by this thorn. God’s power was made perfect in Paul’s weakness. The rejection was needed to more impactfully proclaim the gospel to those who Paul would minister.
God’s truth about the significance of rejection puts the closed doors our children encounter into a different perspective. God rejected his own son to the point of death for our greater good, so we could have life instead of death. God is sovereign and keeps his promises even when he doesn’t answer our prayers in the way we had hoped. We can trust God with our children and know there is a reason He is shutting that door. The good news is God tells us repeatedly in His word He will comfort and strengthen us in that rejection. He is perfect for us in our weakness.
I see rejection as a two-way street in God’s world. We are either rejecting His ways for the world’s or He is telling us no to a path we desire. Regardless of the type of rejection, God’s ultimate willingness to reject Jesus’ prayer, allowing him to die on the cross, provides us with the best open door, life over death. Rejecting the world’s path and choosing Jesus saves us and our children from destruction, giving us eternal hope.
Let’s teach our children where the ultimate beauty lies in the face of rejection. His rejection of our prayers is for our protection and God’s better plan for us. His “no” may be painful, but the beauty of our “yes” to Jesus is lifesaving. Our rejection of the world in exchange for loving our Lord and Savior with all our heart and soul is worth the pain we must traverse while on Earth. While the world might say no, Jesus says come as you are. Ultimately, we can find hope in Christ even when it is wrapped up in rejection.