Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning….I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Psalm 30:5; Hebrews 13:5)
G. Campbell Morgan (1863–1945) was a very sickly child, could not attend school, and was tutored at home. He diligently studied the Scriptures and became a lay preacher. Morgan wanted to enter the Wesleyan ministry and passed written Bible and theology examinations. To be ordained he also needed to preach a trial sermon, so pastors and others gathered to evaluate him in a large auditorium.
When Morgan stepped up to speak, he became very nervous. The big room and all the searching, judging, critical eyes rattled him, and he preached badly. Two weeks later his name appeared on the list of men rejected for ordination. Morgan cabled his father one word: “Rejected,” and wrote in his diary: “Everything seems very dark. Still, I trust that the Lord knows best.” Morgan’s father cabled back, “Never forget. Rejected on earth; Accepted in heaven. Love, Dad.”
For a while, Morgan felt lonely and like a loser. He felt weak and unwanted, like a flop and a failure. He felt worthless. In time, the Lord gave Morgan better perspective on this big letdown. Despite feelings of disappointment, Morgan trusted the truth of Jeremiah 29:11-14:
I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you….
Morgan trusted Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” He believed that Jesus does all things well. Despite his wounded feelings, Morgan trusted Proverbs 24:16 which teaches that Christ’s followers may trip many times, but with the Lord’s help we get up again and again to serve Him. When we are rejected from something we want, Jesus is often re-directing us to something better that He is preparing for us. In God’s kind and loving providence, when the Lord closes one door, He often opens another. If we focus only on the slammed door, we can be blind to the opportunity Jesus opens for us.
By God’s grace, Campbell Morgan didn’t sink into self pity and stay there. He trusted and obeyed the Lord and went on to be ordained in another denomination where he served over fifty years. Morgan became a leading evangelist, preacher, and Bible scholar. He pastored at Westminster Chapel in London, mentored Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones, and authored over 80 books in his lifetime.
Morgan’s example reminds us that rejection in this life is not always permanent. By God’s grace, failure is not always fatal or final. A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless we turn away from Christ. By Jesus’ mercy, circumstances can change and hard times can pass. Best of all, there is no rejection in Heaven for people who are accepted by Jesus and follow the Lord by faith.
When we are rejected by people for jobs, ministries, friendships, or in other ways, here are some truths from Scripture that can help us:
- Remember that Jesus was rejected by people but chosen by God and precious to Him. That was uniquely true of Christ as the Son of God, but also true for all of us who are Jesus’ followers.1
- Remember that Jesus warned that we would be rejected, hated, and opposed for His sake.2
- Remember that Satan wants to keep us discouraged and tempts us to give up. We must submit ourselves to God, resisting the devil so that he will flee from us.3
- Remember that God’s grace is sufficient for us and that His power is made perfect in our weakness. Sometimes the Lord allows us to be rejected so that we learn not to rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. The Lord will meet all our needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.4
- Remember that the Lord will never reject Jesus’ followers, never forsake us, never condemn us. Nothing can separate us from His love. Even if everything goes wrong for us here on Earth, Christ calls us to rejoice that our names are written in Heaven.5
- Remember that because God has accepted us freely, graciously, unconditionally, we are to accept others, just as Christ accepted us, in order to bring praise to God.6
- Call out to the Lord in prayer, knowing that He hears us. Ask Him to delivers us from all our troubles, failures, rejections. He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.7
- Ask the God of hope to fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.8
The way of Jesus cannot be imposed or mapped — it requires an active participation in following Christ as He leads us through sometimes strange and unfamiliar territory, in circumstances that become clear only in the hesitations and questionings, in the pauses and reflections where we engage in prayerful conversation with Him and with one another. (Eugene H. Peterson, 1932-2018)
Notes: 1 1 Pet 2:4; Isa 53:3; Jn 1:11. 2 Luke 10:16; John 15:18. 3 1 Pet 5:8; James 4:7. 4 2 Cor 12:9; 1:9; Phil 4:19. 5 Isa 49:15; Ps 27:10; 94:14; Rom 8:1,35,39; Luke 10:20. 6 Rom 15:7. 7 Ps 37:17,18. 8 Rom 15:13.