Do you ever feel like God has totally forgotten you and your problems, needs, and deepest desires? I do. Do you ever feel rejected by Him? Maybe you’re holier than I am, but I sometimes make the mistake of taking the actions of people, human beings incapable of the perfect love of our Heavenly Father, and assuming these reactions represent the attitude of God. After a summer of literally 20 rejection letters I sometimes entertain the very destructive and heretical thought that God has forgotten about me. Somehow, even after every proof of His sure and steady love, I doubt His promises. “But Kristin,” you might say, “It’s normal for an author like you to receive so many rejections… it’s part of the deal, isn’t it? Like, aren’t there lists of authors that were rejected over and over again before they finally got their big break?” Yeah, actually. And I do expect constant rejection as an author. But the thing that had me really down, and depressed if I’m being honest, is that the rejections I mentioned earlier were about missions support.
Photo by Alex Jones
You see, my husband and I also happen to be full time missionaries living in a country where it is illegal for us to work. So this summer we traveled all over the U.S. (and even to Canada) to pitch our ministry and our family to other Christians in an effort to raise our monthly support to a level that will pay for our most basic needs in addition to language school, visa fees, and ministry costs. In Christian circles we like to call this process ‘support raising.’
Not Your Job
This summer started out with a class about support raising and in it, a really cool and super knowledgable guy told us a significant truth, “You can only present the opportunity for other people to co-labor in the work you are doing to further God’s kingdom. The important thing to realize in order to guard against bitterness is that you have no control over the outcome. Your job isn’t to convince someone to support you. Do your best and leave God with the rest.” That was such a liberating idea, at first, before the rejection letters, texts, messages, phone calls, and emails piled up. I’m actually not bitter about all the rejection. But at some point in this process, and I can’t say exactly when, I started to align these rejections with God’s feelings about me. That is a very dangerous place to be. Can you relate? I hope not, but understand if you do.
Can God Forsake Me?
So, I did what I usually do when I realize my thoughts have formed into a unbiblical pattern. I made a plan of action to remind my battered spirit what the truth is. Yay for the Bible, right? I had to answer the question, “Is God even able to forsake me?” In light of the following verse we must conclude that the answer to that question is a resounding and final ‘no’ remembering that when God makes a promise He always, always, always keeps it.
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” -Hebrews 13:5-6
I read ‘My Utmost For His Highest,’ a collection of teachings and writings from Oswald Chambers, every single day. I love the way Chambers talks about this verse:
What line of thinking do my thoughts take? Do I turn to what God says or to my own fears? Am I simply repeating what God says, or am I learning to truly hear Him and then to respond after I have heard what He says? “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’ ” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
“I will never leave you…”— not for any reason; not my sin, selfishness, stubbornness, nor waywardness. Have I really let God say to me that He will never leave me? If I have not truly heard this assurance of God, then let me listen again.
-Excerpt taken from Utmost.org, June 4th Entry ‘The Never-forsaking God’
Hebrews 13:5-6 Break Down
Step 1: Don’t covet. (Coveting is sin, and sin is always a poor choice that leads to other bad decisions.)
Step 2: Be satisfied with what you have. (Okay, yeah this is hard, but necessary.)
Step 3: Embrace and believe in God’s promise never to leave nor forsake you.
Step 4: Remember the Lord is my helper. He will help. (We may not agree that His help is always the best approach at the time, but we need to choose to trust Him. He’s got this.)
Step 5: Don’t fear! (Another difficult choice.)
Step 6: Answer this question, “What can man do to me?” And realize that nothing a man can do to me will have eternal consequences.
Wrong Thinking On My Part
When I decide to let the behaviors and choices of men cancel out the truths that God so strongly emphasizes in His Word, I am making a grave error. I am sinning. I am giving myself over to heretical thinking. Just because man has rejected me does not mean that God will. If brothers and sisters in the faith forsake me, that does not mean that God will. The truth that I need to remember, recite, and allow to reverberate throughout my being is that God has promised NEVER to leave me nor forsake me. As Chambers points out, this is not a conditional promise, “I will never leave nor forsake you as long as…” or “I will never leave nor forsake you if you do these things…” It is not a conditional statement. It is a declarative. Then in verse 6 it gets even better because we see that God is our helper. God! The same One that created the entire universe. The same Father that sent His Son to die on the cross—such a heavy price—so that I could be with Him forever. And this verse ends with this important reminder which I clearly need, “What can man do to me?”
This humbling reminder emphasizes that if God is going to do it, man can’t undo it. Does God want to provide for the needs of my family? Yes, of course! Does God need men to accomplish that provision? No. Would it be nice and validating if people would support our mission and ministry? Yes, but I don’t need that validation as long as I am sure that our family is acting in obedience to God.
All that to say (and yes I realize it is ironic for a writer to use such a phrase) I realize that it’s my wrong thinking that gets me into trouble. Whether or not I feel rejected by people, I know that I will not be rejected by God. Because Jesus.
Kristin N. Spencer