Blessings in Brokenness By Mikhael Shere’ Trammell
The word broken is a word we’re all familiar with – it means to be reduced to fragments, ruptured, fractured, torn, or ruined. As humans there are times in our lives due to circumstances and situations where we are described as broken – be it health-related, spiritual, emotional, or mental. There are many different types of circumstances and situations that can break us, but I’m going to address one particular action that inevitably leads to brokenness and that is rejection.
Nothing is quite as humiliating and so completely successful at breaking the human spirit as being rejected by another person. The most painful type of rejection occurs when someone we love rejects us. This could be a spouse, a friend, maybe even a family member. Those in leadership may experience rejection from those they lead or from a trusted mentor. To be rejected is to be discarded, cast off, or deemed unacceptable for whatever reason by someone else. When rejection comes from someone we love, it is utterly devastating and leaves the deepest of wounds. That relationship is now broken along with our spirits. Even though we have tried everything we knew to do to keep that person from rejecting us, we are left with that helpless feeling that occurs when you realize it wasn’t enough. We may even feel like we are not enough. We didn’t quite meet that person’s standards, and therefore we were rejected.
When a container is broken, whatever it contains is exposed. When we are broken, that is how we feel – exposed. All of a sudden, that façade of having it all together is shattered. Rejection can’t be hidden, at least not for long. Eventually, everyone finds out and you’re exposed. We feel exposed to others, but that’s not all…we also feel exposed to ourselves. Many times we begin seeing things in our lives – roots that apparently existed but never surfaced, never broke out past that protective container, suddenly have nowhere to hide. If you have gone through brokenness due to rejection and the only roots you exposed were that of humility, grace, and forgiveness, bless your heart. You can just tune out this next part then, because I’m going to talk about some roots that aren’t necessarily good. We may not have thought of ourselves as particularly prideful before we experienced rejection, but once rejected, for some of us, the root of pride shoots up. How could that person reject me? Who do they think they are?! The root of anger may become evident. How could they do this to me? How dare they?? And perhaps a few other chose words. Then there’s the root of doubt. Does God really love me? If He does, why would He let something like this happen to me? There’s the root of self-doubt. What is wrong with me? What is that I could have done that would have made them stay? There’s the root of self-pity. I must be unlovable and hard to get along with. This is all my fault. Some of us have even experienced the root of bitterness – you start expecting the worst of everyone that comes into your life. Roots of rebellion and even jealousy may surface. You might think that all of the roots mentioned would have to come from someone noticeably negative, but that’s necessarily true. In fact, I think that most of us are surprised by these roots that start to surface. You may not have realized you were even capable of some of those feelings and reactions. When rejected, we react. Some of our reactions are immediate, others develop over time.
The question is, how do we overcome rejection? There may be some of us in this room tonight that have suffered rejection more recently and there might even be a few that suffered rejection years ago and are still suffering. There are people that we may know that lived out their entire lives reacting to rejection, seemingly never able to overcome it. It’s difficult to imagine holding on to rejection that long, until it happens to you. Then you understand, how difficult it is to let go of rejection and overcome it. But there is a way to overcome rejection. It’s not some long kept secret, and it isn’t so deep that it’s difficult to understand. In fact, it’s profoundly simple and we find the answer – as usual – in the Word of God.
First, let’s examine the life of someone in the Bible who was well acquainted with the pains of rejection. In fact, it is during her story that we see the answer to overcoming rejection, although it’s entirely possible that she did not grasp this answer herself. We turn to the book of Genesis chapter 29 to find the story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. Now we consider the story of Jacob and Rachel a beautiful love story. But the story of Jacob and Leah is that of painful and continuous rejection. [Read Genesis 29:16-23; 25-28; 30-35]. The story continues, and her womb is opened again as is Rachel’s, but let’s take a look at what we’ve just read.
When Jacob awakened the morning after his bride Leah had been brought to his tent, he felt cheated and it sounds as though he was repulsed when he found out that he had married Leah. Can you imagine how Leah felt? She was a rejected bride whose new husband wanted nothing to do with her. He loved Rachel, not Leah. The KJV version said that Jacob hated Leah, and the Amplified version says he despised her. Her marriage started out with rejection, and she was continually cast to the side by her husband in favor of her sister. But the Lord was watching out for Leah and allowed her to bare Jacob several children. I would like to draw attention to their names, because they are a reflection of the rejection she felt on a daily basis. Her first son was Reuben, meaning “the Lord has seen my affliction and now my husband will love me.” Surely Jacob wouldn’t despise the mother of his own children. We see hope reflected in this name. Her second son’s name, Simeon, meant “the Lord heard that I was unloved.” We find that even after bearing Jacob their first son, he still rejected her. She was trying to overcome his rejection through her children. Then came Levi meaning “this time my husband will become attached to me,” and again we see hope. She was desperate for love and still hopeful of overcoming the rejection of her husband. Then we have Judah. Now Judah is the first name that wasn’t directly connected to Leah’s relationship to her husband. His name meant “this time I will praise the Lord.” We see anguish, desperation, and the pain of rejection reflected in the names of her first three sons. Along with those roots we mentioned earlier, those of us that have been rejected know that in spite of the anger and the hurt, many times we are desperate to mend that relationship. No matter how badly that person has hurt us, we would rather take them back and have the relationship restored rather than live with rejection, especially if it’s someone we truly love. We see that reflected in Leah’s life. But then she departs from this sort of narrative through her children’s names and apparently she takes the opportunity to praise the Lord. She’s still rejected, she’s still hurting, but something made Leah decide that at that particular time she needed to praise God. Perhaps she recognized that despite her husband’s rejection, she was blessed – she had four sons. She went on to bear him two more sons and a daughter.
It is here that we find how we overcome rejection. First, we find that Leah shifted her focus with the birth of her fourth son. Her focus on her relationship with Jacob was obvious, but then Leah apparently shifted her focus on her relationship with God when she bore Judah. If we are so focused on the rejection we experience, on the person who rejected us, on our own pain and suffering, we are not allowing ourselves to overcome rejection. Our focus keeps us in a state of rejection and brokenness. But when we shift our focus upward rather than “us-ward,” it is only then that we can begin to heal and overcome rejection. I know you’re probably thinking that I’m not saying anything you don’t already know. You’ve asked God – maybe even begged God – for healing and restoration, yet you’re still suffering. It isn’t that He has stopped listening to your cries; God hears and He still heals, but He knows that in order to truly overcome rejection there is something that you need to do. You need to praise. You have to determine as Leah did to shift your focus to praise. Praise is the opposite of rejection. Whenever we praise someone, we are showing them that they are admired and accepted. I think that is why it can be so difficult to praise in the face of rejection. We’ve just been told that we are not enough, and now we are expected to tell someone else that they are more than enough. It’s during times like these that we can truly grasp the concept of a sacrifice of praise. Hebrews 13:15 says, “By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.” Sacrifice means we are giving up something. Sacrifice isn’t easy; it requires total surrender. Leah offered a sacrifice of praise – despite rejection from her husband, she surrendered her praise to God.
There’s another person in the Bible who grasped the concept of a sacrifice of praise in the face of rejection, and that is Job. Along with losing everything, he was rejected by his wife and friends. He was so completely cast down and cast away. In the face of rejection, Job praised the Lord. But why? Why praise God when rejected, why not just keep crying out and begging for healing? Why praise? Praise is actually a requirement of all mankind. [Read Psalm 150:6]. Hebrews 13:15 admonishes us to continually praise God. And there’s a reason why this is so vital for us. Praise is our way of welcoming God into our lives. We’re not just coming before Him with a to-do list of needs, we are thanking Him and blessing Him for specific reasons and attributes. [Compliment someone]. [Ask someone to do something; Mom!]. Do you see the difference? Asking for a need to be met doesn’t necessarily require much interaction. Praise fosters positive interaction. You want to talk to someone who praises you, someone who has taken the time to notice what you’ve done for them and are appreciative of specific attributes. You are focused on them instead of your own needs. Praise shifts our focus from ourselves and our own needs to our relationship with God. And I believe that God even has a favorite kind of praise. [Read Job 1:20-21]. God loves “naked” praise. “Naked” praise can only come from someone who is exposed, vulnerable, imperfect, and humbled. We are never more in this state than when we are broken by rejection. “Naked” praise occurs when the walls that we have built come crashing down; when that polished façade crumbles; no pretensions, we’re not trying to impress anyone, we are just coming before God exposed. There’s nothing standing between God and you. No more walls. No more façade. It is only then that God can start picking up the pieces and putting them back together the way He wants. When we come before Him asking Him to do this and do that – the way we want Him to – it limits Him. We try to tell Him where the pieces need to go, but He may have a different idea of how the finished product should turn out. He is God after all; He sees the end from the beginning and has a plan and purpose for each and every one of us. He knows how to fix things. He knows how to heal and mend. Whenever we offer Him praise and surrender ourselves completely, we are giving Him free reign to start the building process. What rejection has broken, praise can build. Remember the bad roots we talked about earlier? [Read Job 12:22]. Another version says that “He reveals deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows to light.” Some things that we may not have even realized had taken root in our lives have now been exposed; they have been brought into the light. We can allow God to use this vulnerable state we’re in to dig those roots out. But if we’re too busy trying to pick up the pieces on our own, those roots aren’t going anywhere. We can push them back under the surface, but they’re still there and at some point they are going to resurface again. But whenever we surrender the pieces and allow God to put them back together, He’s not going to bury those roots beneath the surface, He’s going to remove them. They’re in His way; He’s going to pull them up and replace them. That root of pride? He’ll replace with humility. That root of anger? He’ll replace with kindness and patience. He’ll replace those roots so that the fruit that we produce in our lives will be a reflection of Him and His attributes.
There’s something else that praise will do for us. [Read Isaiah 61:3]. Praise builds, and it also clothes us. We may come before Him offering “naked” praise, but He isn’t going to leave us like that. He isn’t going to leave us exposed. Praise envelops us, clothes us, provides a covering or garment. When we come before God broken and rejected offering naked praise, we can begin to realize that there are truly blessings in the brokenness. That praise allows God to work, to build, to clothe. It’s a blessing to have those bad roots removed from our lives and replaced with the roots and fruits of the Spirit.
Let’s take a look at Leah again. Even though she suffered the pain of rejection for as far as we know her entire marriage, she was incredibly blessed even in her brokenness. She bore seven children, and actually became a Jewish matriarch. The bloodline of her son Levi became the priesthood. Moses and Aaron were descendents of this line. The bloodline of her son Judah became the monarchy. And we know that from the monarchy – which is the line of David – Jesus was born. Without Leah, we wouldn’t have the lineage from which Jesus came. As for Job, not only was he restored, he was blessed beyond what he had in the first place.
He isn’t going to leave us broken. His desire is to remove any root of hindrance in our lives and replace it with blessings. Brokenness itself can be a blessing. Rejection can be a blessing. It’s incredibly difficult to think of rejection as a blessing, but God can pick up the pieces of a life that has been broken by rejection and create a vessel that is stronger and more beautiful than ever before. Not only are there blessings in brokenness, we can be a blessing in our brokenness. Whether we realize it or not, people are paying attention to our reaction to rejection. If we surrender ourselves to praise, the fruits thereof become apparent and can bless those around us. We can show others how to overcome rejection. We overcome through praise. We can experience blessings in brokenness through the power of praise. It isn’t a new concept, it’s something that we’ve probably heard many times before, but I believe that someone here tonight perhaps needed to be reminded. Your praise – your “naked” praise – is how you are going to overcome rejection and see the pieces of your broken life put back together again. Come before God with “naked” praise, and allow that to be turned into a covering, a garment. I’m going to read the ESV version of Psalm 66:16-20: “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!” God isn’t going to reject you. He has heard your cries, He has seen your pain, He will not leave you broken. No matter who it is that has rejected you, if you come before God with praise, He will not reject you. He will turn that praise around and use it as a blessing.
Jeremiah 29:11 in the NIV says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This is probably my favorite Scripture. If there’s a plan and purpose for your life, He isn’t going to leave it broken. Not only will He bless you, He will make you a blessing. All you have to do is offer Him the pieces along with sincere, “naked” praise. Naked I came into this world, and that’s how I’m leaving it. Blessed be the name of Lord.
Copyright 2015, 2016 Mikhael Trammell and Crystal Schmalz Ministries