by Bruno Borges, Men’s Ministry Director
The Pain of Rejection: Part 1
Rejections are the most common emotional wound we sustain in our daily life. We have all experience rejection and have been impacted by its painful influence. Rejection can appear in our lives through minor circumstances, such as lack of interaction on our social media pages or responses to our text messages. We also experience rejection through significant occasions like being fired from a job or being left by a loved one. Regardless if small or big, all rejections hurt and make us feel devalued.
Leah from the book of Genesis understood what it was to be rejected by everyone around her. She was the oldest daughter of a man named Laban, who also had a second, younger daughter named Rachel. While we don’t find much of a physical description of Leah in the Bible, we do know that, “Leah’s eyes were weak, but [her sister] Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance” (Gen 29:17). The fact that the description of Leah’s “weak eyes” is followed by compliments regarding her sister makes it hard to believe that she didn’t struggle with comparing her looks to her sister’s beauty. This perceived rejection must have wounded her deeply.
We can grasp the severity of this rejection even more when we remember that this story was written down about 500 years after the events. Thus, people must have repeatedly commented on and recalled Leah’s physical appearance as the story was passed down orally. Could you imagine what it must have been like for people to constantly compare you to your sister? What it was like to be remembered as the one with “weak eyes” rather than the one who was “beautiful in form and appearance”?
As if the rumors about her supposed lack of beauty were not bad enough, her father, the man who was supposed to love and protect her, felt the need to trick a man into marrying her. In Genesis 29:21-30 we are told that on the night of her sister’s wedding to Jacob, Laban made Leah take Rachel’s place in the marriage bed. After the nuptial night, Jacob wakes up to realize that he has been fooled by his father-in-law. He immediately strikes an argument with Laban, telling him and everyone at the wedding festivities that he loves Rachel, not Leah.
Well, this is certainly not what any bride wants to hear from her groom right after being married. But to make matters worse, Laban agrees to give Rachel in marriage to Jacob right after he finishes the honeymoon with Leah. Again, I don’t think any bride wants to spend her honeymoon knowing that the moment it ends, her husband will be married to another woman, let alone a woman you have been compared to your whole life.
Let’s stop and recap the levels of rejection inflicted upon Leah. She is seen as less beautiful than her sister, something that has probably happened for a long time. Her father felt that it was necessary—possibly because of her appearance—for her to gain a husband through trickery, sending the message that she will never actually be wanted or valued by another. Her husband, in front of all of her family and friends, declares that he does not love her and instead loves her sister.
The wounds of rejection run deep for Leah, yet they also run deep for us as well. Many of us have felt the sting of being compared to others only to be found lacking. Others have had parents who have betrayed us rather than protect us. Still, others have felt the rejection of a spouse or other family member. What hope can there be in situations like these?
Isaiah 49:15 says, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” Even though it would seem impossible for a mother to forget her child, parents can indeed reject their children, as seen in Leah’s story. Yet God says that he will never forget us. He promises us that He will stand by us even when everyone else rejects us.
While we will see how this works for Leah in next week’s devotional, we should all take time to acknowledge the ways that we have been rejected and then think about the ways that God has stepped into those rejections. How has God shown you that He has not forgotten you? Who has God brought into your life to show you that you are loved and valued? Has God been trying to heal your wounds but you have refused to let Him intervene because He is not meeting your needs in the way you want or have envisioned? Pray and think about these questions this week. Allow God to step into the wounded parts of your heart to bring healing, even if that healing is different from what you have imagined.