I receive numerous email devotionals every day, by design. In addition to my daily Bible readings they stimulate my thoughts and act as a springboard in the quest to grow in my relationship with God and his son Jesus Christ. They’re all good but sometimes don’t necessarily click with my thoughts that day. Today, I received several that caught my attention. Most interesting was a common theme of parenting or grandparenting. When a message gets repeated that many times you pay attention.
One in particular really struck a nerve. It was a devotional by Dave Wyrtzen called Rejected by His Father. It began like this:
“Son, I don’t want anything to do with you!” These are the most devastating words a son can hear. It’s worse when the father says nothing, but simply turns his back and walks away. Jesus faced this rejection from His Father as He breathed out His life on the cross.
My father walked out on us- my mother and three kids- when I was five or six. Even after sixty years, the pain’s still there even though it doesn’t hurt as bad. I still have a few dim memories. The last time I saw my dad my brother and I went out with him on his delivery truck. At the end of the day, we stopped at a local hamburger place, he bought us some supper, and then dropped us and our sack of hamburgers off at the end of our street and was gone. I’ve forgiven him, even mourned over what he missed in us and that I didn’t have a chance to introduce him to his grandkids. But the pain, now muted, is still there.
This message resonated with me because I understood it on a personal level. But my experience pales in comparison to the cross. Jesus never cried out in pain until God had to turn away as the sins of the world were laid on his son. That separation was the greatest pain of all. His cry- “Why have you forsaken me?”- is one many of us know only too well. You know the pain of rejection and abandonment. There’s nothing quite like it. It tears at the innermost part of you; it says, “you’re not worth it”. Satan takes that pain and tries to convince you no one knows the depth of your pain, and no one cares.
But here’s the really good news in the Good News (Gospel). Jesus understands it better than anyone else because he experienced it. In the moment Hell was pressing in on Jesus the hardest, God turned away. For the first time in his existence, Jesus was alone. But because of his love for us, he finished the task for which he came. God never stopped loving him, and he wasn’t about to abandon him. He shattered the power of hell and death and raised Christ so no one else should ever have to experience God turning away from them. He wants you to know your worth because He built it into you, and was willing to die because of it. That’s how much God loves you.
Think what that means. We have someone who knows our pain. Someone who has lived our pain. Someone who won’t walk away from us- ever. That doesn’t mean it won’t hurt; but we have One who will help carry the burden of that pain because he knows exactly how it feels. Jesus will wrap his arms around us if we come to him, and he will always be there. Always.
It was traumatic to have my dad walk away. But God had a plan in place to cover it. My mom loved us and sacrificed a lot for us. But it was my grandfather who taught me what it meant to be a man. His godly, humble example pointed me to Jesus and showed me the One I could always trust, who tells me, “you were worth it.”
And I want to do the same for you, because you’re worth it, too.