Well, girlfriends, it is Easter week. I have always gotten excited about Christmas, but Easter has only become special in the years since my own resurrection experience. I thought this week that I would share what the Lord has showed me through a chapter in Isaiah written centuries before the countdown to the cross. I believe that in the death of these verses, Jesus offers you and me hope for life now in whatever circumstance we are facing. I hope you will have a new sense of the importance and hope that Christ's death, burial, and resurrection gives to us who believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior.
1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isaiah 53:1-3 (NIV)
I was in ninth grade. My physical education teacher had made a dreadful announcement. We were going to be chosen by two captains that she had picked. These girls were star athletes who could perform any sport effortlessly. There were twenty-five girls for these two to choose from. You all remember the routine. The next in line to be picked were those who would help guarantee a win, no matter who gotten chosen later. The first fifteen were picked because they were wanted. The last ten were picked because we were what was left over. Even in this situation, there was a pecking order. As the number dwindled, the humiliation grew. We all knew that those left till the very end were the worst of the worst. I stood there hoping against hope that I would not be the last one picked.
I endured each day of school. I didn't need P.E. class to remind me of how I already felt--that I was invisible to most people. I would walk to my classrooms wondering what it would feel like to be popular, even if it was only for one day. I was sure that the pretty girls had no problems. I can't even tell you how many times I wished I could be one of them as I sat quietly in a corner trying not to bring too much attention to myself.
It finally came down to me and another girl left out of the original twenty-five. She was picked first. I stood there feeling all eyes on me with some girls snickering. I was sure they were laughing at the flush of my skin beneath my freckled skin. I felt like an afterthought, a burden to the team. They knew and I knew how poorly I did in any kind of athletic setting. I endured the next forty minutes feeling as though I didn't have a friend in the world. I tore myself apart inside my head until I felt more worthless than the piece of gum I found on the bottom of my tennis shoe. I was sure that I was doomed to a life living with the feelings I had that day in P.E. class.
Girlfriends, we all have intense private pain from rejection by others. I have often wondered at the "foolishness" of God the Father in His plans for His Son coming to earth. Jesus was perfect in all ways. I have to believe that His beauty before He left heaven to come to earth was part of the reason that the angels worshiped Him so fervently. His beauty held no ugly, dark side to it. There was no arrogance or cruelty about Him. His holiness and purity made Him dazzling to their eyes. Their loyalty to Him was profound. He was the darling of heaven.
But Jesus knew that for me to start the healing process from the rejection of others, He had to be rejected Himself. He knew that day would happen in gym class before the creation of the world. And so He had to come to earth with no fanfare. He had to know how it felt to bleed when He was hurt. He had to take on human flesh, knowing that He would be cut and wounded when that flesh was torn. He had to go to the deepest part of our pain in order to be the medicine for it.
"You number and record my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle--are they not in Your book?"
Psalm 56:8 (Amplified Bible)
When I sobbed into my pillow away from my family's eyes and ears, He was there with me. I couldn't see Him there as a fourteen-year-old. I only saw my pain. I didn't know that my tears were so precious to Him that He wrote them down in His book and saw each one splash in a bottle He kept just for my grief. I felt all alone. I wasn't. I just didn't know it then.
And for so many years I did not esteem what He had done for me. I hid my face from Him, only revealing Him in me to others when showing Him on my face did not bring me shame in the association. My rejection of Him was part of the reason that Isaiah says that Jesus was a Man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. My suffering.
Why do I love my Jesus so much? Because He first loved me. My sweet friends, Jesus never rejects us! We are His beloved daughters even if the whole world has overlooked us. We are all individually His favorite child. His death on the cross resurrects our broken hearts and allows them to be accepted by our God. In a world where only the brightest stars get the attention of others, Jesus offers healing in the shadow of His wing alone with Him where His acceptance of us is all that matters.
Jesus, the irony of my rejection is that it was the catalyst for finding true acceptance in You. You have paid the price for my pain. You have freed me from its self-defeating grip that I carried around for so long. Your death has given me life!