A Hope Delayed, Part 1

The most painful rejection happens at the worst times, by the people closest to you.  It doesn't have to be some grand betrayal or some physical altercation.  I think the level of pain is directly related to how deeply you know someone, and how deeply you think they know you.

Rejection from a spouse of eight years is more painful than breaking up with a fiance of eight months is more painful than not getting a call from a girlfriend of eight days.  Getting fired from a job during the "trial" period is less dramatic than being cut off from a career of thrity years.  A teenager feels more responsible for a father leaving a family than a toddler can even understand what is happening.And so, life comes and we grow up.  In the American culture of the 21st century, we might graduate high school, go on to college or maybe get married, we become the leaders of our families.  Yet, when we return home for holidays or go out to eat with our siblings... there is this tension of how things were and how things are.

If the tension is stressed, if the relationship breaks and if we are rejected by the people who know us the most... the people we grew up with, the neighbor pack of kids, our family, our loved ones... there is no more bitter pain than the people who know you the best telling you - whether it be vocally or through their actions - that you are rejected.

This isn't a new phenomenom.  This is something that has gone on for years.  As Christians, it is important to realize one key thing: we aren't alone in this feeling.  This is something even Christ dealt with.

Perhaps we should look at Mark 6:
1 He went away from there and came to His hometown, and His disciples followed Him. 2 When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the  synagogue, and many who heard Him were astonished. “Where did this man get these things?” they said. “What is this wisdom given to Him, and how are these miracles performed by His hands? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren’t His sisters here with us?” So they were offended by Him. 4 Then Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his household.”

5 So He was not able to do any miracles there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He was amazed at their unbelief.

 Christ was not expecting this.  He was amazed at their unbelief.  He didn't expect it and - if I might put a bit of imagination into it - he did not want to be rejected in this way.  Chapter 6 immediately follows, obviously, chapter 5.  In chapter 5 Christ healed a sick girl - so sick Jesus was told she was dead.  Before that he met a woman whose faith led her to touch his robes, taking power from them.  Before that he cast out the demon Legion.  Before that, in chapter 4, he calms a storm and the waves.  So going home you would think people would be happy to see you.

But... they weren't.  They rejected Christ and he felt rejected.  These were the people he grew up with, who knew him day in and day out the past thirty years... and they made fun of him for it.  How could Jesus be teaching and know such things... wasn't He just the son of Joseph?

So maybe they were just friends.  What about people who were sworn to protect your life, and you, theirs?  What if you had fought battles together, time after time?  And what if you and eleven of your best friends, people who would lay down their lives for you, were chosen to go and discover the future of your entire nation?

Perhaps you ended up disagreeing and were in the minority.  These are your best friends... surely you can solve the dispute civilly, right?

Perhaps you are Caleb, and in the book of Numbers you report back to Moses and Aaron that the land flowing with milk and honey is a good land, and that your people can conquer it.  Perhaps the whole community... your friends, your acquaintances, perhaps even your family members would decide that instead of listening to you, you should simply be killed instead (Numbers 14:10).

This rejection, it is a hard pill to swallow.Our home might reject us.  Our entire community might reject us.  Surely, surely, Jesus would never reject us.  He would have a warm heart and kind words to ease our troubles.  He would come like a rushing wind to our aid.

Christ is our redeemer, our Lord, our friend.  We expect that when we call upon Him, He will intercede.  He will make a change in our lives, or the lives we pray for.  If you were some of his best friends, you could say something that would surely stir His soul to reaction: "Lord, the one you love is sick," was the message sent to Christ my Mary and Martha in John, chapter 11.  But His response was not one of immediacy or comfort.  Chapter 11, v6: So when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.  Mary and Martha went to Christ to heal Lazarus, and as far as they could tell, in that moment, He had rejected them.

The most painful rejection comes from those who love us the most.