My very first publisher’s rejection was a red-letter day on the calendar of my life. I was ecstatic to learn someone had actually read my work. It didn’t matter that the response was short and negative. Your work does not fit our current needs at this time, it said, but I had a publisher’s letterhead with my name on it, and I was so grateful I taped it to my office wall.
As you might guess, my enthusiasm for rejection letters has dwindled considerably. Currently, I’m more like Pavlov’s dog, where the sight of a publisher’s envelope in my mailbox triggers my chest muscles to tighten and my stomach to clench even before I open it. Yet, rejection letters are an important part of the publishing process, and like them or not, we must deal with them.
The biblical Hezekiah offers an alternate example of dealing with unwanted mail. Hezekiah was already having a bad day when he received the letter from the King of Assyria (Isaiah 37), which was more like hate mail. Yet, Hezekiah didn’t take the letter personally. Instead, he spread the letter on the altar before the Lord as if it was God’s mail and not his own. In response, God sent His angel to battle Hezekiah’s enemies and Hezekiah came out nicely in the end.
I don’t think it is unreasonable for the writer to take Hezekiah’s example and apply the same principle to rejection letters. If God has called you to a writing ministry and you've done your absolute best on the submission, then it’s fair to lay that rejection letter out before God and say "God, this isn't about me. This is a rejection of the ministry you have given me, and I leave the future of this work in your hands."
Remember, if it is truly a ministry of the Lord, then you are not responsible for the results. The writer’s responsibility is to do his or her best work—God will take care of the results. You cannot do His part, and He will not do yours.