When a Friend Rejects Us
by Christina Fox, Closer Than a Sister
I’ll probably never forget the words my friend said to me, words that cut deep into my heart. We had been good friends for many years and to hear her words of rejection left me staggering. If it were possible, my heart hurt. Everything I thought I knew about her and our friendship was left shattered and in pieces. My mind rehearsed all my memories of our relationship with suspicion. I scrolled back through the years of our friendship and wondered if I was wrong about everything I had believed about our friendship. And then, as a result, I started to withdraw from others to protect myself from further hurt and rejection. Worse than that, I harbored anger and bitterness in my heart.
Perhaps you’ve had a similar situation when a close friend rejected you and cut off your friendship. When we have invested in a relationship over a period of time and share memories and experiences with a dear friend and then they turn their backs on us in rejection, it is painful.
David knew this pain and wrote about it in Psalm 55, ‘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. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng’ (vv. 12-14).
The wounds of a friend hurt worse than those of an enemy. As David wrote, ‘for it is not an enemy who taunts me – then I could bear it.’ David’s friend was someone with whom he went and worshipped the Lord. When our believing friends reject us, this is especially painful. When people with whom we are united together in the faith, people with whom we share the common bond of sisterhood – when sister-friends reject us, it seems unbearable. In the face of rejection, we must remember our Savior. The sorrow we feel over broken relationships can remind us of the One who was broken for us. ‘He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief ’ (Isaiah 53:3).
Jesus was rejected by His dear friend Peter when He was on trial; three times Peter denied knowing Him. He was rejected by those He had grown up with in His hometown of Nazareth (Mark 6:4). When He was arrested, all His disciples fled and abandoned Him when He needed them most (Matthew 26:31). On the cross, Jesus bore the full weight of rejection for us when the Father poured out His wrath upon Him for our sins. After He rose from the grave, Jesus came and found Peter. ‘When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” ’ (John 21:15). Jesus gently restored and brought Peter back into relationship with Himself.
Though Peter had rejected Him, Jesus gave him grace. Though our friends may forsake us, our Savior never will. His love for us is not dependent on anything we have done; it will not waver and will never change. We can trust Him and His love for us. He understands our sorrow and comforts us in it with His always faithful love.
Intersecting Faith and Life
"In the face of rejection, we must remember our Savior. The sorrow we feel over broken relationships can remind us of the One who was broken for us."
Taken from Closer Than a Sister: How Union with Christ helps Friendships to Flourish (Christian Focus Publications, 2017). Used by permission of Christian Focus Publications.
Christina Fox writes for ministries and publications including The Gospel Coalition and Desiring God, and she serves as editor of the PCA women's ministry blog, enCourage. She is the author of two books, Closer Than a Sister and A Heart Set Free. Christina holds a Master’s in Counseling Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University, and she worked in the field of counseling for several years. She serves on the advisory board of Covenant College. A homeschooling mom, Christina and her husband and are parents of two sons.