To be rooted is perhaps the most
important and least recognized need of
the human soul.
The year was 1858 and the Illinois legislature used what might be called a dirty political trick. The legislature gave newly elected U.S. Senate seat not to the man who won the popular vote but to the man who had the most support from the Illinois legislature. The man sent to the US Senate was Stephen A Douglas and the man left behind was Abraham Lincoln. A concerned friend asked Lincoln how he felt and this is what he said: “Like the boy who stubbed his toe: I am too big to cry and too badly hurt to laugh.”
What is rejection?
Webster defines rejection as to refuse to accept, consider, submit to, take for some purpose, or use to refuse to hear, receive, or admit
Rejection is a part of life and at some point we are all going to feel the cold sting of rejection. Rejection is something that we have all dealt with. Whether it’s on a personal level or a professional level, the sting is still there.
We have felt the familiar pain of rejection in a variety of ways. The job or promotion we were not given, the loan that your bank turned down, the position that you were not given, the family member that stopped speaking to you. Rejection happens to us all and rejection inflicts pain. It comes and drives its fangs into our heart and unleashes its poison.
You can take heart because if you have ever felt rejection, then you are in good company. There were many that felt the sting of rejection throughout the pages of the Bible.
Adam and Eve rejected the command of God
Jeremiah was rejected by the people of his day and was thrown into a well
Jonah rejected the people of Ninevah after they repented
Jesus was rejected by the society and religious leadership of His day
Peter rejected Jesus by denying Him three times
Stephen was rejected and executed by the Sanhedrin
My own thinking sometimes rejects my faith thoughts and at that very moment the battle begins. My creativity is at risk and my resolve to forge ahead is stifled. In trying to partner with God on this vision of Second Chance Alliance I am really at my wits end concerning fund raising and the philanthropic aspects associated with measuring success. The concept of rejecting yourself is more apparent than from outside entities.
Rejection Started in Joseph’s home in Genesis 37:3
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
When we first meet Joseph he had a favored position in his household. He seems to play the role of the spoiled child. He is the one whom his father played favorites with. To further make the favoritism known, Joseph was given an expensive robe to wear. This would have been a symbol of status. We see the response of his brothers to this was not good.
The writer makes it clear that the brothers hated Joseph because of his favored treatment. The manner of their attitude toward Joseph is seen in their envy, animosity and their jealousy.
5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” 8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
Joseph is given a vision through a dream and makes the mistake of telling his brothers about it. The response is only more of the same. Look at the end of verse 8, they hated him all the more. The burning hatred of Joseph’s brother roared out of control and consumed them. The consuming fire of hate would soon burn Joseph.
Notice the downward spiral that Joseph’s brothers went down and each step brought them one step closer to their rejection.
The brothers were bitter over the special treatment that Joseph received and from the negative report that he gave about them.
The brothers became angry over the dreams that Joseph told them about. They felt that he would never have authority over them
The brothers were jealous of Joseph’s special place with their father and with his obvious special abilities.
The brothers allowed their negative feelings to linger and then they infected the way they saw Joseph. Notice that they hated Joseph. These are strong words for an even stronger emotion.
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. 19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” 21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the desert, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father. 23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe–the richly ornamented robe he was wearing– 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. 25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt. 26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed. 28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt. 29 When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. 30 He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?” 31 Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They took the ornamented robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.” 33 He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.”
Notice what happened with the brothers and Joseph:
They mocked him; The brothers saw Joseph coming and they mocked him calling him that dreamer. The fuel of hatred moved them from hard feelings to hard words and hard hearted actions. They plotted against him as the brothers saw Joseph coming, they began to plot how they would attack him. The original plan was that they would kill Joseph and tell their father that he was killed by an animal.
They attacked him: Joseph’s brothers joined together and attacked him. The brothers got the jump on Joseph and physically assaulted him. This means that they grabbed him and held or beat him. No matter what they did they were physically abusive to him.
They stripped him:
The first thing that the brothers do is to take the favored possession from Joseph. The robe that made him the father’s favorite was stripped from him. The symbol of their resentment, jealousy and rage was taken. They took the thing that was withheld from them. In a sense they were stealing their father’s blessing from Joseph.
They threw him:
Before the brothers kill Joseph Reuben stops them and convinces them to put him in a dry cistern. They throw Joseph in and this means none too gently either. A cistern could have been anywhere from 15 to 30 feet deep and could have caused significant injuries.
They sold him:
The brothers agree to not kill Joseph but to teach him a lesson. Judah sees a trade caravan and gets the idea to make some money on the deal and the brothers decide to sell Joseph. Judah makes the plea to not kill Joseph because he is their brother, let’s just sell him instead.
The saddest part of the whole situation was that when they sold Joseph, they did so for the lowest price possible. Twenty shekels was the price for an injured slave. The fact is that they just wanted to be rid of him. Let’s do the math, ten brothers and twenty shekels of silver comes to two shekels each. These brothers sold their brother for about $10 each.
They ignored him:
As Joseph was in the cistern, he cried out for help from his brothers. They ignored him. When they turned him over to slave traders, Joseph cried out to them for help and they ignored him. This may have been the cruelest of all their actions, they heard and did nothing for Joseph.
They buried him:
This is figurative and not literal. The brothers slaughter a goat and dip the robe into it. The whole time trying to make it look like Joseph was attacked by a wild animal. They in essence gave Joseph a burial. They lied and told their father that Joseph was dead.
What do we learn from Joseph in this passage? What can we take away from all this? How do we live in the face of rejection?
We have to be willing to be open to the work of God in our lives. Joseph was given the visions of God in dreams. This is an incredible ability. The abilities that you have may not be visions from God but they are equally important to the church. If you allow your life to be open to God, He will decide where, when and how to use you.
One of the downfalls of Joseph was the simple truth that he didn’t keep his mouth shut. Joseph was given a great gift from God but the manner in which he displayed it was totally inappropriate. Pride comes before a fall and Joseph’s pride caused him to be humbled in tragic ways.
Many times we look at the short term effects of the trials we go through and doubt God is using them in a positive way. Before things would improve for Joseph, they would sadly get worse. God is not finished working in us and through us. We cannot judge the outcome by the unfinished product. Allow God to finish what he has started in you.
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
Never forget that God is not done with your life and making you into the person he knows you can be until you die or Jesus returns. Until then be sure that God is working his plan out in our lives even in the rough spots and the difficult days. This morning if you are dealing with some form of rejection or other form of personal pain, I invite you take a moral inventory of self and give the situation over to God.
Bring the Rain
I can count a million times People asking me how I can praise you with all that I’ve gone through The question just amazes me Can circumstances possibly change who I forever am in You Maybe since my life was changed long before these rainy days it’s never really crossed my mind To turn my back on you O lord my only shelter from the storm But instead I grow closer through these times So I pray:
Bring me joy, bring me peace bring the chance to be free bring me anything that brings You glory And I know there’ll be days when this life brings me pain but if that’s what it takes to praise you Jesus bring the rain.