Praying through Rejection

Rejection…oh, how it stings.


We don’t live long on this planet before encountering it. So many emotions come into play – pain, anger, disillusionment, loneliness, despair…

Jesus knew this pain well.

On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus shared an intimate meal with His closest earthly friends. Only two people in that room knew what was about to transpire. Judas, chosen as friend and disciple, would soon betray his Teacher into the hands of murderers. Jesus knew of Judas’ plans, yet He knelt and washed Judas’ feet. His dusty, dirty feet. Feet that would lead the killers to Jesus.

What an act of unheard-of grace.

Jesus knew He would also feel the ruthless pain of abandonment. Each of those beloved friends would run and hide during Jesus’ darkest hour. Except one – Peter would follow at a distance, but when questioned, he would deny even knowing his Friend.

Oh, how deep the pain of rejection.

Even so, Jesus spent the evening loving on His unfaithful friends (Jn 13:1). He washed each of their feet. He prepared them for difficulties to come and gave them promises to hold onto. And He prayed for them (Jn 17).

Jesus saw past His own pain to the needs of His friends.

He told Peter “I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Lk 22:31-32).

He knew that Peter would feel unusable, unforgivable. He would grieve the choice he had made. In rejecting Jesus, Peter’s own heart would break. But Jesus prayed that Peter wouldn’t stay in that dark place – that his faith would not die, but that he would turn back to his friendship with God.

Then Jesus went even further. He prayed for Peter’s ministry after God walked his heart through grace.


Yes, Peter would sin. He would choose self-preservation over faithfulness. He would break the heart of the One he’d pledged faithfulness to unto death (Lk 22:33). But God would bring good out of it and enable Peter to strengthen others as a result.

What beautiful grace radiates from this passage.  Grace for the unworthy. Grace for the unfaithful. Grace for the one inflicting the pain. Grace poured out, even before they asked for it.

When I encountered this story a few days ago, God did a deep work in my heart.

This is rarely my response to rejection. I often feel defined by the one who hurt me. Many a time, my world has come crashing down when someone hurt me.

But Jesus did not allow the opinions or actions of others to define Him. He knew His identity and didn’t try to prove Himself or keep men’s approval. (See Phil 2:6-7.) He was free to love, to forgive and to extend grace.

O God, teach me to rest in Your approval. Renew my mind in who You say I am. Then enable me to pray for those who hurt me – for their faith, for their walk with You, for their future ministry.

What about you? How do you respond when faced with rejection? What difference does it make to be “accepted (by God) in the Beloved (Jesus)”? (See Eph 1:6, KJV.)

Related Posts:
Nothing to Prove
Redefining Success, Part 2

Redefining Success, Part 2

I will never forget the excitement of watching my babies learn to walk. Even knowing the drastic changes that come with a mobile baby, I still coaxed and bribed and urged them to try. And when they took that first step, and those wobbly next few steps, I cheered them on with heartfelt exuberance. Even now, I thrill at the new life “steps” they take…starting school, learning to swim, picking up a new instrument. The going is slow, but there’s value in the process. Never in my wildest dreams would I scold or punish them for falling down as they learn to walk. It wouldn’t cross my mind to reprimand, “Well, that was pretty good, but I really expected something from Chopin, not ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat.'”

Why then, do I suppose God is disappointed with my feeble, faltering attempts to love and follow Him? Why do I see a frowning countenance in my mind’s eye when I think of how my heavenly Father views me? Do I forget that Jesus has a sympathetic heart toward me (Heb 4:15-16)? He knows what it’s like to be human, to be weak, tired, and angry. He knows how it feels to have given to everyone else and not even have time for Himself (Mark 6:31-32). And though He never did, He knows I will sometimes fail (Rom 7:19).   

So when I fall down, what is God’s response? Am I a failure in His eyes? Does He expect me to strengthen my resolve and pull myself back up so I can prove to Him I’ll do better next time? I don’t think so. I think He’s there to pick me up, brush me off, and set me on my feet again. In other words, I think this is really all about Him, not me. It is God who works in me, causing my heart and life to line up with who He is (Phil 2:13).

He is forming Christ in me (Gal 4:19). It’s a process. And He is just as concerned with the process as He is with the final product. If His plan was for me to be perfect and sinless now, He would have completely removed my flesh (Rom 7:18-20), or just taken me to heaven once He saved me. The fact that He didn’t do those things is proof to me that this wrestling, this “two steps forward one step back,” is part of His overarching work. It’s how I learn to depend on Him, to live relating to Him rather than independently.

Yes, He wants me to live in victory over sin – He purchased it for me with His blood! He desires for me to choose to follow Him out of a heart of love and worship. But He also wants me to know that I am loved and accepted even when I don’t. He wants me to know that His approval of me is based on Jesus’ righteousness, not mine. My righteousness didn’t earn my salvation, nor will it earn His favor now. He is pleased when He sees Christ being formed in me. He is pleased when, through His Spirit in me, I resist temptation. He is also pleased when, through His Spirit in me, I cry out for help from the mire I’ve fallen back into.

And that, my friend, is my new definition of success. Cooperating with Him as He forms Jesus in me. Learning from Him. Surrendering to His leading. Letting Him express Himself through me. Progress, not perfection.

So what does this look like in my daily life? Maybe it means a day spent fighting for joy, instead of surrendering to discouragement or weariness, is a day well spent. Maybe it means time spent with my kids is not wasted, though the house is a mess and we picked up pizza for dinner. Maybe it means doing a “home date” with hubby once the kids are in bed is the better choice, rather than “doing something productive.” Maybe it means that just getting one room cleaned (and being okay with the fact that it will be messy tomorrow!) is good enough. Maybe it means He’s pleased when I walk with Him through the day, even when I couldn’t drag myself out of bed for a long “quiet time.”

Ultimately, success may not always look like success to us. Our hearts may condemn us as failures. But God is greater than our hearts (1 Jn 3:20). He has declared that there is no condemnation for those of us who are “in Christ” (Rom 8:1). When our hearts, or the opinions of others, declare us to be failures, we would do well to consider these questions: Whose approval am I defined by (Col 2:13-14)? Is my life centered upon Jesus (1 Cor 3:11)? Am I progressively becoming more like Christ? (Rom 8:29). These things lie at the heart of true success. They make all the difference in God’s eyes.   

The apostle Paul was a highly successful Israelite religious leader. But a life-altering encounter with Jesus changed his definition of success. He gave up everything, was imprisoned for Christ, and ultimately died as a martyr. Not too successful, humanly speaking. But this was his testimony. “…I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (Phil 3:8-9).

So what’s your definition of success? Please feel free to comment – I’d love to hear your thoughts!