How can I overcome rejection?

Rejection is a common and normal experience. It happens in relationships, in business ventures, and in other pursuits. We seek out a connection and are refused, or we apply for something and are denied. Rejection often causes us to question our worth as people. Even those who know Jesus as Savior and know that their identity is in Christ and not in the opinions of others are not immune to the hurt of rejection. As painful as rejection can be, especially when it first happens, it is something we can move past, especially with God's help.

The first step is to acknowledge our emotion and share our hurt with God. Pretending that rejection did not occur or that it doesn't hurt will not do any good. God already knows. In fact, He understands our feelings more deeply than we can imagine. Look at how many rejected Jesus during His time on earth. Look at how many still reject God's offer of love and grace. God can certainly empathize with us.

After we've shared our hurt with God, we seek His comfort. This comes through prayer and through the truth of God's Word. When we belong to Christ, we are children of God (John 1:12–13). We are fully loved and nothing will ever separate us from God's love (Romans 8:31–39). He has "blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:3). He "chose us in him before the foundation of the world" and "predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ" (see Ephesians 1:4–10). Remembering our identity in Christ and the lavish love of God will go a long way in removing the sting of human rejection.

Sometimes rejection is the simple result of a relationship or job or other circumstance not being a good fit. It may take us aback, but we can "… know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers" (Romans 8:28–29). God's plans for our lives do not fail because of rejection. Rather, rejection can be an impetus for our spiritual growth and a reminder that God is sovereign (James 1:2–5; Romans 5:3–5).

Sometimes rejection is a result of something in our lives that needs to change. For example, we may be rejected for a job because we need more education. Or someone might reject us as a friend because we come across as haughty or mean. While rejection should not cause us to question our fundamental worth as humans made in God's image or as children of God in Christ, it is okay for rejection to prompt self-reflection. Ask God to guide you if there is something in your life or in your character that needs His transforming touch. Then submit to His work in your life with joy. When God reveals something in us that needs to change, it is not to shame us, but to grow us in Christ and complete His good work (Philippians 1:6; 2:12–13; 2 Corinthians 3:17–18; 13:5).

Sometimes we are rejected because we are Christians. Jesus told His followers, "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:18–19; see also Luke 10:16). We need not be offended when people reject us because of Christ. Instead, we can ask for God's heart for such people and pray that they will come to know Him. Jesus is the only Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), if people reject Him, they remain condemned (John 3:16–18). With God's perspective, the pain of rejection shifts from one of personal affront to one of sadness at their lost state and desire for them to come to know Christ.

Rejection is something we will continue to deal with throughout our lives. But it is not something that should hinder us. Instead, we can use rejection as an opportunity to experience God's comfort and be reminded of the truth and steadfastness of His love. Our worth rests squarely in God, not in the attitudes or actions of others, whether they accept us or reject us. God is the measure of truth, not the changing values and opinions of the world or those in it (John 8:31–32).

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