Jesus told the Pharisees: “I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town” (Matt 23:34). A little later he added: “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (v 37). Through his frustration, the underlying message is: love keeps trying until there is nothing left to do.
This is not so different from the frustration we feel when a child’s battle with substance abuse leads to repeated betrayal. When a friend’s mental illness seems determined to isolate her from others. When a sibling refuses to forgive family disputes.
To a lesser degree we may feel it when we do volunteer work and recipients seem less than grateful. Or when they seem to take advantage of our generosity. Or when sincere but fumbling attempts to support a disadvantaged group are met with suspicion or criticism.
One natural response to perceived rejections is to give up on loving, perhaps telling ourselves to save our love for where it is appreciated. Another response, one much more difficult and requiring sincere humility, is to examine whether we could try to love them differently. God extended all possible chances despite knowing the outcome. Should we do less?
We can’t cure another person’s addiction or illness. We can’t force people to express gratitude in a manner acceptable to us. We can keep reaching out in love to a person drowning in suffering, until he either accepts our hand or is pulled beneath the waves. God knew the Jewish people would not heed his cries until it was too late, but love compelled him to keep trying. If we love someone thinking we can save them, we will inevitably be disappointed. If we love someone with an agenda that serves our ego more than their need, we will burn out. When we love someone without expectation, we become a steady light in the darkness.
Comfort: We are not responsible for how others respond to our love; only to love them anyway.
Challenge: When you feel your love is rejected, consider doing something differently.
Prayer: I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. (Psalm 16:8)
Discussion: When you feel your love is rejected, redirect it.
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