“The essence of America – that which really unites us — is not ethnicity, or nationality or religion – it is an idea — and what an idea it is: That you can come from humble circumstances and do great things. That it doesn’t matter where you came from but where you are going.”
― Condoleezza Rice
I come from humble circumstances. Born in Touro Infirmary. My mother was nineteen and my father was twenty. And we lived in the projects of New Orleans on Basin Street until I was five. We had a brief stint in a middle class neighborhood in Metairie – where I remember my older brother getting in a fist fight with a neighborhood boy – and many parents in the neighborhood – including the other boy’s – were rooting for the other boy. Both of their names were Mike – so I assumed some were rooting for my brother – until he got the upper hand and they broke it up. But I think that incident sent a message even back then – “you all don’t measure up.” But not to worry – we moved to Kenner the summer before my fifth grade – into a lower, middle class neighborhood – where we fit right in.
You know what this reminds me of,
That’s what the gospel of John says happened to Jesus. It’s a human occurrence. Jesus felt it. Do you ever wonder how it made him feel? I do, which leads me to label this as the saddest verse in all the Bible.
But, here’s what is so positively glorious about the kingdom of God:
The last will one day be first. (Matthew 19:30)
What others intend for harm, God intends for good. (Genesis 50:20)
One is blessed when they are insulted and persecuted and accused falsely. (Matthew 5:11)
Any of this happen to you this week? Then I say, join the club! And! Consider it pure joy when trials of many kinds come your way – because they have the potential to develop great character in us! (James 1) They help you to look more like Jesus – and they are for your good – not your harm. We are called to a life of struggle – because the world struggles – and what greater way to identify with one another than to know what it is like to feel “less than.”
And it is especially in these times, when it will serve us well to remember how great the love of God is especially for those feeling the sting of rejection. I just love this verse:
How great is the love that the father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is because it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)
See! you are in fabulous company. Revel in what you are: Children of God!
And remember, even though it may hurt, being humbled is often a good thing. We are called to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand – and often that means feeling humiliated by others – but in due time God will indeed lift you up. Make sure you write it down when it happens! Can I just tell you, how many times I have seen this over and over in my own life – just when I feel the sting of feeling excluded – something glorious comes along – straight from heaven – usually via a human – to cause me to remember just how great the love of God is for me personally. All these lessons are achieving for us a glory that far outweighs these light and momentary struggles. (2 Corinthians 4:16)
It’s preaching the gospel to ourselves – which is what I was just doing above to myself! – that will lift our emotional well being to new heights. Those heights that are made perfect in our weakness – because His grace – when we tap into it – cling to it with all our might – and allow it to permeate our souls’ deepest hurts – is indeed most sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
And I think God agrees with Condoleezza Rice when she says,
That it doesn’t matter where you came from but where you are going.
Perhaps its time to stop wallowing in our own insecurities and emotional baggage that just love to render us ineffective and unproductive – and recognize that God created us to take dominion over all the earth and subdue it (cf. Genesis 1:28) – now that’s a calling for an “ezer.”