Editor’s note: In The Unfair Advantage, Pastor Aaron Burke takes a look at the unfair seasons Joseph endures in the book of Genesis and shows how his struggles are very much like we face today. Enjoy this excerpt.
How is your heart? This could be the most important question you answer today. The heart is actually referenced 633 times in the Old Testament and 170 times in the New Testament. God has a lot to say about its condition. The health of your heart determines the health of your life. So to get an accurate measurement of how healthy you are, take a deeper look at two areas. The first question to ask yourself is “How am I acting?” Proverbs 27:19 tells us,
As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.
The second question to ask yourself is “How am I speaking?” Jesus teaches in Matthew 12:34,
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. — NKJV
Do you find your words laced with complaining, negativity, or criticism? This may indicate a problem with your heart.
Undergoing rejection will have a significant impact on your heart’s condition. You have a choice in the matter though. Use the rejection to get bitter or use it to get better. Rejection can be the poison that sinks us to bitterness, or it can be the fuel that drives us to greatness.
We all know people who have used their rejection experience poorly. Left in the frozen state of perpetual hurt, bitterness oozes out of them, creating discomfort and hurt for the people around them. Choose wisely how you want rejection to affect you.
Rejection happens to the best of us, but it doesn’t need to get the best of us. So how do we fight that innate bitterness that tries its hardest to creep in? Scripture tells us:
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. — Proverbs 4:23
- What you allow into your heart when you are rejected will determine its condition.
Unforgiveness is a toxin to the heart. Refusing to forgive is choosing to stay trapped in a jail cell of bitterness, serving time for someone else’s crime. I am not sure who originally said that, but it is very true. (And I’m not worried about stealing that quote because that person has to forgive me!)
In the midst of extreme suffering, while He was still at the peak of His torment on the cross, Jesus made the crucial decision to forgive. He didn’t wait until their murderous act was over but faced His betrayers and critics and, while they were inflicting pain, imparted forgiveness. He forgave before the offense had a chance to infect his heart. Despite His agony, He mustered His last bit of energy and cried out,
Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. — Luke 23:34
Jesus has given us the perfect example to follow. Ephesians 4:32 instructs us to
be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
We don’t deserve it, but Jesus forgave us. Now we have no choice but to forgive others in return.
Offense can be a festering wound to our hearts. No matter how we try to escape it, our world can be very offensive. People say things that hurt. People do things that hurt. People overpromise and underdeliver. People cut you off in traffic, renege on money they owe you, and disappoint your expectations. Hurtful things happen on a daily basis. However, it is possible that offensive things can happen to you without the offense living in you.
- An offense is an event. Becoming offended is a choice.
Joseph had a decision to make in the back of [the] caravan. In the famous words of Elsa from Frozen, Joseph had to “let it go.” Holding on to hurt is exhausting and detrimental to your heart. If you have noticed unhealthy patterns occurring as a result of rejection, let me encourage you to take the steps necessary to release the offense so you can move on.
The number one killer in America for the past decade has been heart disease. I believe the number one killer of your potential is spiritual heart disease. Don’t become a casualty.
Be intentional to guard your heart as well as purify your heart from the hurt caused by life. You can go through bitter situations without becoming a bitter person. In a moment of rejection, rather than taking it personally, choose to see people as Jesus did, who forgave the highest offense with the words “they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:24).
LET GOD HEAL YOUR BROKENNESS
There is an old Japanese legend dating back five hundred years of a man who was a leader in the Japanese military, otherwise known as a shogun. Legend says that one day he broke his favorite teacup. Unwilling to accept it as lost, he determined to repair it to even better than before. He picked up every shard of the broken cup and painstakingly pieced it back together. For the final touch, he sealed the cracks with gold, making the cup more precious than it had been before. In other words, instead of getting bitter, he got better.
Whether or not the story is true, the art form is alive today in the Japanese practice of kintsugi. Take a moment to google some images. Just like in the legend, the kintsugi artist breaks an intact pottery object, allowing it to shatter into dozens of pieces. The artist then begins the work of placing all of the broken pieces back together. When the pieces are replaced, instead of glue or tape, they are sealed with gold. In doing this, the kintsugi artist gives broken pottery way more value than it had when it was still undamaged.
Here we see a powerful lesson of redemption. In the hands of the artist, the artifact goes from broken to beautiful. In short, “the Japanese art of kintsugi teaches that broken objects are not something to hide but to display with pride.”1 This is the gospel.
Jesus owns our brokenness and gives it intrinsic value.
Is your heart broken? Rejection can often do that. The only lasting solution is to give your pieces to the Master Artist. The prophet declared,
We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. — Isaiah 64:8
When we place our brokenness in His hand, He lovingly turns it into something beautiful. Our brokenness moves us from a mess to a message. Our hurt transforms into healing for other people. Our frustration changes into fuel for the future. None of this is possible in our own hands.
God is the only one who can change our hearts.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. — Ezekiel 36:26
Before you read on, allow Him to do some heart surgery and heal some of those broken places, so, like Joseph, you can move into “Egypt” better instead of bitter.
- Rejection can become one of your greatest resources.
THE UNFAIR ADVANTAGE: LOOKING AT REJECTION AS REDIRECTION
The rejection from Joseph’s brothers must have wounded him greatly. But little did he know how significant it would be. Rejection, when handled properly, can become one of your greatest resources. It can move you toward the ultimate purpose God has for your life. It was necessary to move Joseph to Egypt.
So how do we use rejection for our advantage? Rather than allowing it to be a hurdle keeping us in our past, we turn rejection into the fuel that propels us to what is next. Two people can go through the same rotten situation, but while one emerges victorious, the other leaves completely defeated. The difference in these two people is attitude. How you decide to handle your hurdle will either fuel you for good or frustrate you to despair. It is your choice.
One of the major lies people tend to believe is that adversity will keep us from our destiny. Nothing could be further from the truth. What seems like a loss is always for our gain, if we just give it enough time. It seems extreme, but I truly believe we need to receive rejection in order to reach our ultimate potential.
Joseph found himself in a pit. While he was sitting alone in the darkness, he may not have considered his rejection helpful. Just like that empty pit, rejection is an empty season. The good news, however, is that, as in Joseph’s life, the pit is not the end of your story. It’s just a part of it. Rejection might have thrown you into a dark, empty pit. But take a breath and consider this just a pit stop on your journey. Grab a Slurpee and some peanuts. Remind yourself that this is temporary and that God will move you on to greater things.
When we get to the end of Joseph’s story, he confronts the very people who rejected him. It had been over a decade since he’d seen his brothers, and he was now in a position of power over the very people who had tried to ruin his life. He easily could have taken revenge. If he spent those years letting his wounds fester, it would have been very tempting to attack and get even. Instead, he saw his rejection as the path that brought him to his potential. He looked at the very brothers who had so cruelly rejected him and said,
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. — Genesis 50:20
It might be thirteen days, thirteen months, or thirteen years later, but like Joseph, you will look back and see how man’s rejection moved you toward God’s direction. Yes, the road is painful, but it is also full of so much purpose.
There is nothing fair about rejection. I don’t want to minimize its anguish. I know well how hurtful it is. That is why there is so much hope in knowing how God uses all the pain for our advantage. It’s for our good! So if you have been rejected, be encouraged. It could be that God is moving you toward something spectacular.
It’s unfair, but it’s for your advantage.
- Stefano Carnazzi, “Kintsugi: The Art of Precious Scars,” Lifegate, January 30, 2016, https://www.lifegate.com/kintsugi.
Excerpted with permission from The Unfair Advantage by Aaron Burke, copyright Aaron Burke.
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Becoming offended is a choice. We can hold onto rejection and injury and become bitter or let it go as Joseph did and let God heal our brokenness. God can use the very things that hurt us to position us to work for His glory and for the saving of many! ~ Devotionals Daily