I do not like to experience disappointment. I do not like rejection, even when it isn’t my personal project being turned down. I do not like to be the bearer of bad news.
And yet I do experience disappointment, rejection, and the telling of bad news–every week. That is the nature of the arts.
The arts (meaning music, writing, dance, and painting) are comprised of thousands of hours of practice, long days of solitude, and truckloads of self-doubt in a world where everyone is a critic.
However, I am inspired by the recitation of the failures of Abraham Lincoln during the 26 years before he was elected President of the United States. During those 26 years he:
Lost his job.
Was defeated for the state legislature.
Failed in business.
Lost his sweetheart to death.
Had a nervous breakdown.
Was defeated for Speaker.
Was defeated for nomination for Congress.
Was rejected for land officer.
Was defeated for U.S. Senate.
Was defeated for nomination for Vice President.
Again was defeated for U.S. Senate.
I find that list invigorating. I began in this business forty-two years ago as a part-time shelf-duster in a bookstore. In these ensuing years, I experienced many disappointments and failures, yet God has blessed our family in so many ways.
If you get slapped with a rejection letter today:
“Woe is me! For the Lord has added sorrow to my pain. I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest” (Jeremiah 45:3).
If your agent tells you that your latest proposal is flat and needs work:
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
If your editor goes on a rampage and takes a machete to your manuscript:
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character (Romans 5:3-4).
If your self-talk begins shouting the word “Loser” in a shrill voice:
As I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless . . . like chasing the wind (Ecclesiastes 2:11).
If any of these things hit you, remember:
Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).