“And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.””Genesis 4:4-7 NIV (New International Version)
Has there ever been a time when you felt rejected? You would be fooling yourself if you say you haven’t. There will be days when it just feels like everyone is looking down on you, friends, family, and even God. How do you feel when you aren’t accepted? Most people feel sad, confused, depressed, and even angry. As in the case of the story of Cain and Abel, Cain’s offering was rejected while Abel’s was accepted by the Lord, Cain did not understand why his work was turned down and that confusion turned to anger, and the anger turned to murder of his brother. Looking at it from the outside, an unbeliever might suggest that it was God that compelled Cain to kill his brother. Had He accepted his offering, the crime would not have happened. Is it true that there are times when God rejects His people?
The feelings of being rejected by the Lord is just a matter of perception. Just because God favored Abel’s offering over Cain’s did not mean He loved Cain less. For example, if a brother or sister did something amazing (like pass a Spelling Bee) receives recognition from the family over the sibling who got an A on a test, does not mean one is loved more than the other. Fortunately, God doesn’t have favorites, but loves all His children. I do believe that God rejected Cain’s offering in order to test him.
Why does God test His people? He usually does in order to see the condition of your heart. In the case of Cain, He was checking to see if his heart was truly devoted to God. If it was, then it would not have mattered if his offering was accepted or not. Like Cain, you and I don’t like to be tested by God. It is because His tests usually reveal the flaws within ourselves and who wants that to be known. This creates an uncomfortable feeling which often leads to two different paths.
The first path is to accept God’s test evaluation and allow Him to work in us to make us better. This will not be an easy process because it requires a great deal of letting go and changes to who we are. Nevertheless, to one who perseveres on this path, the rewards are abundant.
The second path is to resolve this uneasiness by ourselves. However, because of the sin that is within you and me, we lack the tools to effectively improve the situation. In the case of Cain, he chose to handle his rejection by himself and the results produced brutal consequences for his brother and to himself.
Which path will you choose when faced with rejection? Will you wallow in your depression and be angry or will you turn your eyes to the Lord and see what is really going on? Will you seek to fix the problem by yourself like Cain did, or will you seek the Lord and allow Him to work in you. Before you make your choice, count the cost of each path and determine which one has the better returns.