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Pulpit: Life on the discard pile

September 30, 2018

Chris Brekke

In many a card game, there are cards that are unwanted. They get discarded.

In sports, there are players deemed not good enough. They are not chosen, or they get cut. Discarded.

In shopping, there are items no one wants so they just lay there. They get passed over and set aside. Discards.

In life, alas, it happens, too. Some people get discarded. Life can leave you on the scrap heap.

Not to say that this could happen to you, but … I’m sorry to say that yes it could. Most all of us have to face this. It seems to be part of the deal here on earth. There’s a party after school and you’re not invited. There were tryouts for the team and you didn’t make it. The scholarship committee picked someone else. You spent prom-night at home. The girl you’re sweet on is just not interested. Some workers got promoted, but you weren’t one of them. Your spouse divorces you. Your kids ignore you. You’re stuck in a care center, and people don’t care to come visit. I won’t go on with more examples. It’s too painful, eh.

Life as a human being on planet earth includes this reality. Sometimes you’re the reject. You languish in the emotional pain of life on the discard pile. The loneliness and sadness can hang there like a thick fog. If this is your lot in life right now, I hope that these three things might help to sustain you.

1) Don’t practice the “stiff upper lip” approach. Don’t try to be a stoic and pretend that it’s OK. Let your Maker share your hurt. In the Bible, especially in the Psalms, there are laments. It’s good to cast your burdens on the Lord; to cry on His massive shoulders. While it is not true that “it’s all going to be OK,” it is true that we have one eternal friend, who knows our pain, and cares, and never forsakes us. Like St. Paul said during his reject-status: “we are afflicted, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair.” (II Corinthians 4:8) God’s presence is your ongoing present.

2) Remember that the Lord specializes in using rejects. Being discarded is not always the end of the story. It often is a temporary status, with a better chapter ahead. Joseph’s brothers discarded him into slavery, and later he went on to be prime minister. Moses got discarded from prince of Egypt into fugitive of the desert, and later became the great deliverer. David was discarded to a life on the lam, and later would be king. This is not to fantasize that all will be well, but to realize that rejection is often not final. God can make good use of the discard pile. (And for you Viking fans: Case Keenum, Adam Thielen and Marcus Sherels were all unwanted, undrafted players. Rejects can rise.)

3) There will be ultimate redemption. The secularist is stuck at the final gun. We in Christ are not. Even should you suffer and die alone, we know the happy “spoiler-alert”: Death doesn’t win! Discards are offered, by God’s sheer goodness, eternal inclusion! The One who suffered and died on the Discard Hill of Calvary rose, and has a deal for you! Claim your reservation at the heavenly banquet. Picture those dancing shoes in glory. There’s no victory party like that of the redeemed rejects!

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