Salty droplets shimmered in the moonlight on the surface of the cool wood flooring. Not so far above them, a young woman rested her cheek on her forearm, tears still streaming from her eyes. Every few seconds a soft moan of pain escaped her lips as she remembered how she had been snubbed by her best friend. Again.
For the past two years, they had worked alongside each other, shared intimate secrets, enjoyed laughs over their lattes, and cried over unrequited love and heartbreak. Lately, however, her friend had been flaking on her. They would make plans, only for her friend to text at the last minute saying, “oh, I can’t make it tonight, something came up.”
That “something” usually involved her new friend or her new boyfriend. When another text of “something came up” pinged on her phone, she decided to go to Barnes and Noble by herself and enjoy her two favorite things—books and chocolate. She found a seat by the window and smiled with pleasure as she took in the scents of her newly purchased book and rich wafts of hot chocolate. For a moment, she forgot everything as she dove into the first chapter. A few pages into her book, she happened to look up as a small knot of people strolled by. Her best friend was walking from the nearby theatre with her new boyfriend and new friend. They were laughing and chatting, unaware of the horrified face observing them through the glass.
Pain shot through her chest again at the memory. After all they had been through together…
“Something came up alright,” she hiccuped through tears, “Something apparently “better” than me!”
More tears sprinkled the floor as her body convulsed with renewed sobs.
Just like the girl in this story, we have all experienced something akin to this behavior. Regardless of how charismatic, charming, or witty you are, someone—someday—will let you down. Someday, you will disappoint someone else, and it is likely you already have.
We are imperfect people, prone to cause others pain through our imperfections, surrounded by imperfect people who do the same—often unintentionally.
When Jesus walked the earth, he experienced rejection, betrayal, and denial—circumstances we all face as well!
John, in his gospel recounts the incident when Jesus fed five thousand men (plus women and children). When those people came back for more, he taught them about the bread of life and rebuked them for simply seeking to have their stomachs filled. In chapter 6 John writes:
“After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” (verse 66)
Jesus, being the Son of God and having God’s omniscience, already knew the hearts of those who turned away, but the pain of rejection still stung! He was preparing to die a brutal death for people who only wanted earthly satisfaction. He wanted to give them eternal life, daily peace, faithful love. All they wanted were some loaves of bread!
I sense—though I cannot prove it—that when Jesus asks his disciples the next question, it is laced with sorrow.
“So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” (verse 67)
When my spouse started his previous career, we were told at the outset that marriages in that career only had a fifty percent survival rate. After a severe incident, that survival rate dropped to twenty-five percent or less! The odds were not in our favor. We only survived because God was the center of our marriage—not because we were superhuman!
When the going gets tough, who will tough it out with you?
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (verses 68-69)
Later in the narrative, this same Simon Peter ends up denying Jesus three times as Jesus is being prosecuted by jealous Jewish leaders. Another of Jesus’ disciples—Judas Iscariot—is responsible for handing Jesus over to those who seek His life.
If anyone understands the what it feels like to be let down, it’s Jesus. When we tell Him how we feel, He will not roll His eyes and tell you, “get over it.” He will not attempt to minimize your heartache. He listens. The Holy Spirit intercedes. The Father sends peace. The pain doesn’t always dissolve immediately, so we must continue offering it to Him in our prayers. (I have found, as I get older, when I share my troubles with the Lord and repeat His promises of peace, I often receive the peace that really does pass understanding!) Ultimately, as we continue sharing our pain with Him alone, He works on our behalf—either by helping us change our attitude or guiding us to better circumstances.
Maybe someone has wounded you today. Maybe your still reeling from rejection or betrayal. Have been snubbed, flaked on, abandoned, or forgotten? Jesus understands. Jesus knows firsthand how you feel.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4.14-16, ESV
People will let you down, but God never will. People may fail to understand your pain, but Jesus always understands. People may ignore your pleas for comfort, but the Holy Spirit shares your grief with the Father. We are loved by the most faithful, loving, and compassionate Father. He sees your pain and He cares! When you pray, remember, He is faithful.
For it is not an enemy who taunts me—then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—then I could hide from him.
But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend….
But I call to God, and the Lord will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage,
for many are arrayed against me.