Pastor Stanley Mehta spoke to a group of Christian leaders last week about dealing with rejection. He talked about the bitterness that we have in our hearts when others disappoint us, when we feel slighted and ignored, when hurtful words worm their way deep into our hearts.
And Stanley talked about how Christ experienced all of this - and more. None of us have had God turn His back on us - but Jesus experienced that during the darkness at noon when the sins of all of history were placed on Him - and Father God turned away prompting the anguished cry "my God, my God - why have you forsaken me?"
The good news is that Jesus took the bitter cup of rejection and drank it for me.
I don't need to drink it any more. Jesus is willing even now to sip the bitterness and give me the release of forgiveness.
That's a great comfort - but first I still have to give Him my cup.
Here is an opportunity to put it into action:
In early January we got an application from a young nurse who wanted to join us. We met her and she joined Jeevan Sahara on Feb 1st. Over these two months we were pretty happy with her work and thought that she was adapting well to being with us at JSK.
On April 2nd her sister called up and said that her father was critically ill and in the ICU with a heart failure. We immediately sent our nurse home to a small town in Maharashtra. The mission hospital in that town is the one in which my brother Stefan was born.
On the next morning - and through the day - we tried calling our nurse. She did not pick up the calls. Our other staff members called. Same. One person got through and was told that she arrived safely and that her father was still sick.
More attempts to call. No picking up. Once or twice we got through but could not hear what she said. Strange noises. Silence.
Near the end of the week one of our nurses who has just left us after working for 5 years at JSK told us something. She said that this nurse had told her she was leaving as soon as she got this month's salary.
We were devastated - but hoped for the best. I sent an email to the director of the hospital - who is an acquaintance of mine - and asked whether a certain so-and-so was admitted at the hospital. The director called me a day later and said that they had no record of the name - neither in the ICU, the wards, the OPD, the pharmacy...
It was true. Our nurse and her sister had deceived us. After agreeing to serve here for 2 years - she had left after 2 months - and without the courtesy of saying goodbye. We sent her off with fervent prayers for her father's recovery. She knew that there was no father in the ICU.
How not to be bitter? How not to be angry at deception, at feeling foolish and betrayed? How to share this with our staff team... another disappointing set of decisions made by a person we trusted and loved?
King Jesus tells us... give me that cup. The one of bitterness and seeking revenge.
I am doing this. As the thoughts come to mind ... I give them back to Jesus. I pray for the nurse regularly. As a team we have put her into God's hands.
At the end of the day we know that we can move on - but she is carrying the burden of her deception with her - and that the head of the mission hospital in her small town knows about her. How she is going to get out of what she did is a puzzle - and makes it all the more painful for us since we really saw some excellent steps for her while she was with us.
Its a constant struggle not to allow the bitterness to seep in though. But what blessed liberation to know that we do not have to hold anything against her. And whenever the bitter thoughts come we can give them in prayer over to our Lord.
We are still keeping the door open for reconciliation...