Years ago, I watched a sermon given by Dr. Billy Graham, in which he used a few lines from a psalm as his text. He was talking about the loneliness that people feel, that sensation of being left out or being left behind. Here are portions of the two verses he shared from the Bible:
“I am like an owl of the desert,”
like “a sparrow alone upon the house top.” Psalm 102:6-7 KJV
Too many people have this sense of being excluded; some have it frequently, others, now and then. But no matter how often the feeling of being left out comes, it hurts. Loneliness is the great emotional plague of our times. We need to find ways to get rid of the real sadness it brings. The good news is that God can help us ease and even lose these feelings.
Below are five spiritual insights to address the feeling of being left out.
#1 Feeling Excluded Can Seem Unique to Us
When you are feeling lonely and excluded from others, it can seem like it is only happening to you. It is easy, in these days of social media, to look at people’s posts and think, “Everyone is happy and together!”
Furthermore, it is sometimes what we see on Instagram or Facebook that makes us feel left out and alone. Perhaps you see a group of people to which you belong and they have posted an event. But, you were not invited. You are not in their photos.
It’s easy to get lost in dwelling on those posts. “Look, they’re together. It appears they’re having so much fun. Why didn’t they include me? What’s wrong with me? This happens so often.”
You see how your thinking can sink? And, perhaps someone has just called and invited you to do something with them. Or, maybe you have received a number of kind words throughout the day, but quickly they get overshadowed and forgotten by the absorbing pain of feeling purposefully left out.
Get a Grip on What’s Really Happening
It’s important to begin self-encouragement at this point. We need to remember with thanksgiving the good things that have and are happening to us. Otherwise, there is a tendency to give way too much weight to any hurtful information coming into our minds.
Remember the kindnesses you have experienced and give thanks. This simple verse, used in a particular way, helps illustrate this idea:
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21
When you pull your mind back to thinking about who and what you treasure, there is no time to think about the real ways in which people have been hurtful, or about the ways we imagine we have been hurt.
Remember, Others Have Been Excluded Too
This experience is not unique to you. You’re not the only one.
We can look in the Bible. We can look around and see so many other people who have been or are being hurt and left out. Often, it is in far more painful and tragic ways than us, too.
Yesterday, I read the account of Christians in North Korea who have been shunned by their society and even imprisoned in re-education camps or in far worse types of incarceration.
Their torture, their hunger, the pain is tormenting to read about. That’s real exclusion and being left out. It doesn’t diminish your pain or mine when we get excluded, but this is true suffering.
Think About the Motives of Those Who Exclude
One in the Bible who was left out was Joseph (His story begins in Genesis 37). Why? His brothers were jealous of him. He was destined to be a very great man.
Sometimes, when we’re left out, yes, we need to think, “Do I need to improve something about myself?” But, many times the exclusion has to do with faults within those doing the excluding. Perhaps, they, like Joseph’s brothers are jealous. Maybe, they are cold, lacking compassion, or are biased in some way.
So don’t assume you’re at fault if left out. However, if you can see something in yourself that needs changing. If God speaks to your heart and says, “This needs correction,” then pray, and with His help, make the changes.
#2 Jesus Himself was Left Out
In truth, the Person most left out was Jesus Christ.
We are six weeks away from Good Friday, the day on which Jesus, the Son of God, was crucified, outside the city. He hung on a cross, tortured and ridiculed. As explained in Hebrews 13:11-14, Jesus was the ultimate outsider:
“The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”
Why did the author of Hebrews write these words? In the first place, the writer wanted the people to know how unique and special Jesus is. He is the One who died for all in absolute rejection. In the second place, the writer wanted to encourage the people receiving the letter who were being left out of their society and even persecuted like the Korean Christians mentioned above.
When you are excluded, Jesus knows and cares.
“You keep track of all my sorrows…collect all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 NLT
#3 When Alone, the Lord is With You
Although I have written this before, I want to share it again. I have some favorite verses, Hebrews 13:5-6, about the Lord’s steadfast love for and presence with us. In fact, I love them so much my husband had them engraved on a heart and put on a necklace. And, here they are:
“…God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?'”
Never is a long time.
Furthermore, we can look at psalms like Psalm 139 which says to God, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” (Psalm 139:7-8 NIV)
The Bible is full of testimony to God’s steadfast, never ending love for us!
#4 God Gives Us Identity and Value
Being left out can hurt like crazy. But remember, as a woman named Patricia Holbrook wrote in a beautiful blog post on rejection, “rejection is something done to me, [it’s] not who I am.”
Yes, people can act as if we don’t matter by leaving us out, but our task is to remember their actions are not our identity.
On the contrary, who we are is given to us by God. There is a beautiful verse, John 1:12 NIV that tells us:
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
We are not “rejected ones,” even if people may treat us that way, if we have received Jesus Christ as Savior.
As we get ready to pass through this Good Friday and Easter on April 2 and 4, as people face so many difficulties in these times, how absolutely important it is to know your own spiritual status. If you have never realized what Jesus Christ did for the world, or asked Him into your life, now is the time. A simple prayer:
Jesus, please forgive me for my sins. Come into my heart. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Amen
Jesus will then be your Savior and your constant Friend. You will never be or ever feel alone with Him. And your name will be Chosen.
#5 Love Someone Else Who Feels Left Out
I had a mentor as a young woman who taught me the importance of giving and being grateful. “If you do those two things, your life will be established and filled with peace,” he taught.
And so, it is true. Give to others and say thanks about the smallest things and you’ll not experience your feelings ruffled very often.
But, if you do feel left out, if someone snubs you accidentally or purposefully, one of the quickest cures is to reach out and love another person. Lift someone else up, especially someone who seems left out and lonely. You’ll be amazed at how quickly a darkening mood will brighten up swiftly. Loving people almost always brings more refreshment to us than to them.
Finally, if you need prayer or encouragement about feeling excluded, please contact me through this website. But, remember, you are who God says you are. No other opinion matters like His.
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