How was your Valentine’s? The moment can be bitter or sweet. It’s a day of deep wounds and longings, or desires and belonging. Ultimately, it reveals our human pursuit to dwell in healthy connection/relationships. It’s a paradox in a way: we need relationships to survive, yet they can be a source of deep pain.
That’s the risk and it’s worth it. Usually.
Relationships have moments–sometimes seasons–of trial and hurt. Dealing with these realities and emotions isn’t easy. Often you’re left just screaming at the sky with more questions than answers (think of a break up for example).
Ever been there? Feeling hopelessness and despair?
When I’m honest with my feelings I eventually turn to a place where I want to chase down health. Part of that process is rediscovering healthy faith, and I look to Jesus for examples on how he dealt with moments such as rejection.
For example, why did Jesus continue to love his followers even when they turned away repeatedly. In the least, there should be a deep sense of hurt. If it was me, I’d pull the plug on the relationship.
We find part answer when we learn about Christ’s love. A love that goes to the very end, where not one else will go…and then one step more. A Christ-like love is generous yet may receive nothing in return.
That’s not to say one should stay in an unhealthy relationship. But I imagine Christ, holding the magnitude of his love, intensely struggled with rejection, and it’s in these revealing moments I want to discover how and why he continued to love in hopes there are clues for me. One such clue is found in a story about a fateful night….
The hour was coming when Jesus would be betrayed and crucified. He knew what to expect when nobody else could. There, in the dead of night, he snuck out with a chosen few friends and into the darkness to quietly pray his final prayers.
He asks his companions to stay awake and keep watch. They keep falling asleep.
The most arduous and draining prayers found in scripture are the ones spoken next (Mark 14:32-50). Jesus asks God to take away his unfolding responsibility. The feeling of rejection (or perhaps dejection?) comes to a head as he sits in the Garden of Gethsemane, overlooking the Temple Mount, he cries out to God, “take this cup away from me”. As if he’s calling out, “why me God…?”
And in the pit of despair the answer he received? Nothing. Only quiet. Jesus meekly responded in the midst of the seeming nothingness, “thy will be done.”
Have you ever prayed at the seeming pit of your despair only to receive quiet….?
The story quickly unravels. An arrest follows and trials unfold. His friends start to abandon him along the way, one by one by one. Jesus was rejected by nearly all of his followers save for a few who made it to the cross with him (including his mother). There, on that cross, his final breathes utter a question about a final betrayal, “God, why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus waited with open arms but the world, those disciples, you and me, turned on him. He bore a silence from God all the way to the cross, and in his ultimate time of need, faced all of the rejection in the world.
But even in the pit he wasn’t alone (John 16:32; Psalm 22:24). God didn’t forsake him. There wasn’t an immediate answer (in Jesus’ example there was a bigger plan at work).
For us, in the low of rejection and despair we’re never guaranteed deliverance in the moment. That doesn’t make it any easier, but it does suggest we have a Saviour who can sympathize with our hurt. That somewhere in the misery we can rest in a relationship that may not provide all the answers but won’t leave you alone.
Love like Christ loves and receive that love too. It’s all we have to give. In this space you’ll never be alone. But after that, the rest is unknown.