How Do You Deal With Rejection?
Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and praised the word of the Lord; and as many as had been destined for eternal life became believers. 49 Thus the word of the Lord spread throughout the region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, and stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their region. 51 So they shook the dust off their feet in protest against them, and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Paul and Barnabas were working hard for the Lord, doing all that they could to minister and bring the good news of Jesus Christ to those who needed to hear. The Gentiles were excited to hear about the Lord and to become believers. The Jews were quite unhappy with this turn of events and they made life miserable for Paul and Barnabas. No longer were they able to stay and minister.
Rather than being discouraged by the rejection, they remained filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. They didn’t let the attitudes of a few individuals deflate their sense of urgency or calling. I love the idea of one commentator who says that they were filled “with holy and elevated emotions.” (Jamieson, Fausst & Brown) Rejected, and yet filled with holy emotion! Persecution had the opposite effect on these disciples.
We all have to confront rejection from time to time. Not everything happens in life the way that we would like and not everyone is going to like what you do. In ministry it can often be this way but the important take-away here from the lives of Paul and Barnabas, is that they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Every part of their being was filled with God’s Holy Spirit and it was the Spirit who continued to lead them on to the next place of ministry. As long as they allowed the Spirit to bring peace to their hearts and they kept their eyes on God, they were okay. Had they allowed their focus to be on those who opposed them and who were trying to sabotage their ministry, they would have been miserable.
I love the way that being filled with the Holy Spirit and joy are connected in this passage. There was this sense of “holy and elevated emotions.” The Holy Spirit is able to help us with our emotions. Much of our emotional instability may come from the fact that we are allowing others to control how we feel, instead of God. Complete surrender to the presence of Holy Spirit in every part of our being results in a healing of damaged emotions, for the Spirit brings joy. When we do not allow the Spirit to reign, we do not have the privilege of experiencing God’s joy.
So, how do you deal with rejection? Does it get you down? Do you allow it to immobilize you? At the very core we must understand the need to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit. It is this Spirit-filling which brings great joy to our lives. May he lead us and guide us from day to day.
Lord, thank you for joy in the face of rejection. Amen.