“Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.” (Luke 6:22-23, NIV)
Have you ever been excluded by your friends? It certainly hurts!
Did anyone ever insult you? That hurts as well!
Rejection is not on our list of favorites! Who in their right mind would take pleasure in such bullying techniques?
Most of us have experienced rejection in some way during our lifetime. Some more than others. Whenever we are different from others (and truly all of us are different, unless we are robots!), we will face rejection of some sort.
When I was young I was mocked in my Flemish-speaking elementary school, because I had been brought up in a French-speaking family. I was shunned in high school as well, as the Coke bottles over my eyes were not in vogue, but I had no choice but to wear them, as my sight was indeed quite poor. Even now-a-days people point me out as not being a typical North American, but that’s what happens when you come from the old country!
There are others who hate me just because I wear a cross. Being a Christian opens the door for many to make fun of you. Still I keep on smiling, knowing that the One who matters the most to me is smiling down from heaven, accepting me fully as one of His sons (See Gal 4:6).
I do not despise those who mock me. Instead I pray for them, helping them whenever I can. It’s amazing the patience God bestows on us! At opportune times, God grants me opportunities to encourage one of them or help them through turmoil. Sooner or later (Most likely later than sooner!) they come to the conclusion that different is good after all. The whispers behind my back disappear. Not because I am that swell of a guy. I sure wish I was! But because God granted me the opportunity to show His grace to them.
Just recently I received a note from one of my colleagues. She had gone through a lot during the past school year, and at the end of the year she retired. But God gave me the opportunity to be a source of encouragement to her, and she left me the following note: “I will miss our heart to heart sessions. We did make a good team. This poster was meant for you as the students always look up to you as their hero, whether you are playing guitar (which you should continue) or running around the classroom.”
I certainly didn’t deserve this, but this is what happens when we follow in the footsteps of the Nazarene.
Mocked? Don’t get discouraged! Stand firm and depend on God, waiting patiently on Him. Pray for your persecutors that they may experience His grace above anything else. Then stand back and anticipate the opportunities God will grant you to show His love. Remember, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” (Luke 23:34, NIV)
Washington Square in Philadelphia was renowned as the potters’ field of the city. Numerous people are buried there, convicts, strangers, soldiers as well as the destitute. It didn’t help that during the winter of 1777, disease hit the American army hard. 2000 soldiers were buried then. 15 years later yellow fever ravaged the city. Again, numerous inhabitants were buried there.
What is most remarkable about this sad place is that it was also a place of rejoicing, thanks to the free as well as the enslaved African Americans, who during fairs and public holidays came here to dance and sing according to the customs of their home countries. They knew what hope truly meant and looked forward for it, lifting their eyes to the Most High.
It is our choice to either mourn or rejoice. It all depends on our perspective. If we take the time to stop in our trek, we will notice that wonders have filled our lives way more often than sorrow.
“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.“ (Luke 6:23a, NIV)
Will you make a difference in this world?
(To access the entire “Worthy are the Unworthy” devotional series, please click here.)