The Treadmill of Anger

How do you deal with difficult issues like rejection or betrayal? Have you been running on the “treadmill of anger?” Learn how you can step off!



Morning.  David Sorn.  Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.

It’s funny how much we don’t remember from childhood…and maybe odder still the things we do actually remember.

For a lot of us…the things we do remember are the events that are usually punctuated by an extra dose of emotion…whether good or bad.

Like I remember, when I was in elementary school, one of my best friends in the neighborhood had a birthday party…and only invited his friends from his class…and not me.

I sat inside my house, looked out my window as all of his friends came over and I stayed home.

We don’t tend to forget rejection

I remember when I was in 8th grade, I had my first “boy/girl” birthday party at my house.

In true mid 90’s fashion, I set up my stereo, and we were dancing in my basement.

I’ll never forget when one of my best friends ended up dancing with the girl I liked…to my favorite Goo Goo Dolls song no less.

We don’t tend to forget betrayal…as I would have called it then

Unfortunately, our experiences with rejection and betrayal don’t end in elementary or middle school.

They continue into high school…college…and life beyond.



THE RISE OF SELFISHNESS à Rejection & Betrayal

Many of us experience rejection at work.

Whether it be the rejection of your ideas…your own job…or even if you’re not accepted into the “inner circle” at work.

You never get invited to hang out with everyone else…or you never get the promotion because you’re not in the “in crowd”

In a lot of ways, humans never really grow out of “high school culture”

And thus, we still feel rejected.

Or maybe you just reach out to someone for help…

You need help moving…or with a project at your house…

And no one even responds to help you. 


For others, it’s even more serious.  Maybe you’ve experienced rejection or betrayal in a relationship

You thought you were in love with this person…you were even thinking about marriage…and they tell you they’re just not in love with you.

Or maybe you were married…or are married…and you find out that your spouse has betrayed you…and cheated on you with another person. 

What do you do with such pain?

And why does it keep happening?

I would even go as far as to say that rejection and betrayal are on the rise in our American culture.

And it’s because rejection and betrayal (especially) are often built on the foundation of selfishness.

People say…I would help you…I would be loyal to you or look out for you, but I really must look out for myself first.

The rise of these things are just a ramification of Americans deciding to pursue their selfish interests with reckless abandon.

We’ve decided that life is about achieving OUR dreams, finding OUR pleasure, finding OUR happiness

And so, we make decisions that we think will ultimately lead to OUR happiness…and along the way…other people get hurt by our selfishness.

This is why we need a Christian ethic…not a worldly one.

It doesn’t work.




So what do you do when you feel these things? 

You’re struggling with rejection…or even betrayal… (maybe your own family isn’t even there for you right now!)

What do you do?

Thankfully, the Bible, which deals with just about every emotion and experience you can think of…has wisdom for us. 

We are resuming our “Monarchy” series today on the book of 1 Samuel in the Old Testament.

 If you’re new to Renovation… …so far in 1 Samuel, we’ve seen:

The Israelite people clamored for a King, so they could be like everyone else.

God gave them King Saul…who was not a great king.

Then, God anointed a young man named David as their future King…a man after God’s own heart.

And as David got older, and God was clearly with Him, King Saul began to grow jealous and started to pursue David to kill him…and so David fled from Saul and was constantly on the run

And that’s where we’ll join the story today in chapter 23.

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(1 Samuel 23:1-5) – NIV

When David was told, “Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are looting the threshing floors,” 2 he inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” The Lord answered him, “Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” 3 But David’s men said to him, “Here in Judah we are afraid. How much more, then, if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!” 4 Once again David inquired of the Lord, and the Lord answered him, “Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand.” 5 So David and his men went to Keilah, fought the Philistines and carried off their livestock. He inflicted heavy losses on the Philistines and saved the people of Keilah. 

Let’s pause for a second…keep your finger in your Bibles. 

So the people of Keilah are being attacked by the Philistines. 

Not just that…the Philistines are stealing all of their grain, and the people might starve to death if they’re not killed by the sword first.

And the people of Keilah are the people of David’s very own tribe.

There were 12 tribes of Israel, and they each had their own allotment of land.

David is from the tribe of Judah, and so are the people of Keilah.

So David goes to rescue them.

Even though his men don’t initially want to because it would be at great risk to themselves.

But they are unselfish, and they go.

Let’s keep reading.

 (1 Samuel 23:6-14) – NIV

6 (Now Abiathar son of Ahimelek had brought the ephod down with him when he fled to David at Keilah.) 7 Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah, and he said, “God has delivered him into my hands, for David has imprisoned himself by entering a town with gates and bars.” 8 And Saul called up all his forces for battle, to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men. 9 When David learned that Saul was plotting against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod.” 10 David said, “Lord, God of Israel, your servant has heard definitely that Saul plans to come to Keilah and destroy the town on account of me. 11 Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me to him? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? Lord, God of Israel, tell your servant.” And the Lord said, “He will.” 12 Again David asked, “Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and my men to Saul?” And the Lord said, “They will.” 13 So David and his men, about six hundred in number, left Keilah and kept moving from place to place. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he did not go there. 14 David stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.

So after David saves his people in Keilah, word gets out that King Saul is coming there to kill David.

So David asks God, “Will the people of Keilah sell me out?  Will they give me up to save their own necks?”

God says, “They will.”

That’s betrayal friends.

David just rescued them! 

And now they’re going to give him up.


Because they’re afraid.

In the previous chapter, chapter 22, Saul destroyed an entire city, the city of Nob, because the people of Nob aided David while he was running from Saul.

And the people of Keilah are worried they will experience the same fate.

And maybe you think, yeah, but they were right to want to do so.

Of course, you have to first protect those closest to you, right??

But remember, if David would have operated off of that same ethical morality of selfishness (protect those close to you first), he never would have risked the lives of his own troops and rescued the people in Keilah in the first place

So there’s great irony here.  

But David, in his rejection, calls out to God…and God rescues him, guides him away from death, and leads him somewhere new.

And yet, David is still not free from rejection.

For the sake of time, I’ll have to summarize a few parts of this.

IN the middle of the chapter, his great friend, Jonathan comes to see him…and encourages him in the faith.

Then, we’re told that David just can’t seem to escape rejection from his own people…even though he’s actually done nothing wrong.

(1 Samuel 23:19-23) – NIV

19 The Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon? 20 Now, Your Majesty, come down whenever it pleases you to do so, and we will be responsible for giving him into your hands.” 21 Saul replied, “The Lord bless you for your concern for me. 22 Go and get more information. Find out where David usually goes and who has seen him there. They tell me he is very crafty. 23 Find out about all the hiding places he uses and come back to me with definite information. Then I will go with you; if he is in the area, I will track him down among all the clans of Judah.”

When you read this, you might think, who are these people from Ziph that are selling out David to Saul?? 

David’s enemies?  An enemy nation??

Nope, practically family.

They’re also from the tribe of Judah….like David

We’re talking 10-15 miles from where David grew up. 

Saul isn’t even part of their tribe.

He’s a Benjamite.

And now, maybe because they’re afraid Saul will come to their town…maybe because they just want to make some money (like a bounty hunter)…they sell David out too.

He’s not doing anything wrong.

He just happens to be hiding nearby.

Talk about rejection!

Thankfully though, David has God.

And God helps David escape once again, and God gets Saul to stop chasing David (for the moment) by sending the Philistine army back into Israelite territory, and thus King Saul is forced to stop chasing David and go and fight the Philistines back at home.



So put yourself in David’s sandals for a moment…you’ve done nothing wrong, but your own people have both basically betrayed you and rejected you…out of their own selfishness.

Most of the time, when we’re betrayed…or rejected…we often pursue a different path than David

Think about what David didn’t do:

He had an army of 600 men with him.

They could have marched straight back to Keilah and burned the city down for their willingness to betray him.

But He doesn’t.

He just seeks God and lets it go.

But most of us, we feel like we have to make a wrong right…

We can’t just let it sit there!

And how do you make a wrong right?? 

You wrong the person who wronged you. 

That’s our thought process.

Some of us are audacious enough to truly get back at people when they hurt us…

The rest of us are typical passive-aggressive Minnesotans…so we just get back at someone by telling everyone else how horrible that person is.

And then in our heads, we hold onto resentment…

We throw darts at them in our heads over and over and over again. 

We may not go back and actually burn down the city of Keilah, but we fantasize about burning it down ten times a day. 

For the vast majority of Americans, it’s this never-ending cycle of anger.

It’s a cycle that we know to be wrong on paper, but it feels so right in our hearts…especially when we’re wronged. 

When we’re deeply wounded…it’s like we just jump on this treadmill of anger.

We start chasing vengeance or vindication from when someone wronged us.

We get ready to “show them.”

We’ll get them back.

Or we become Hindu for a moment and we say, “Someday Karma will get them!”

But that’s just the treadmill of anger and revenge.

It won’t make you happy.

It won’t make the pain go away.

Ask anyone who’s actually ever gotten back at someone?

It doesn’t work.

You never get to your destination of peace & satisfaction that way.

Your anger may be causing you to run faster than ever, but your still stuck in the same spot.

It’s the treadmill of anger.

It doesn’t go anywhere, and worse yet, it never stops.

The desire of vengeance and vindication doesn’t go away.

It just creates more problems. 

It makes me think of my life before I knew Jesus Christ.

I can’t tell you how much I hated people and how many people I hated.

The list was really, really long.

I spent most of my free time thinking about all the people who had ever said anything mean to me, or my family, or my friends…and all the people who had even looked at me funny.

I was consumed with anger about how stupid people were.

And if I got a chance…I just might tell them how stupid they were.

And let me tell you, it never worked.

I told a lot of people.

Even if they had really rejected me…hurt me….and I got a chance to tell them what they did…and how terrible they are.

It never got me off the treadmill of anger…

If it did anything, it just sped the treadmill up.





But how should this be different for the Christian?

How can be different?

WHY do this differently?

Because it’s not as simple…as I’m a Christian, so I should stop being angry.   

Trust me, that won’t be enough motivation for you.

The difference can be found in Jesus.

Jesus, who is often called in the New Testament, “the Son of David.”

Because he’s a descendant to that great man who was a precursor to Jesus in many ways.

David is a man who understood God…and it allowed him to do life differently.

He turned to God instead of his anger…and it allowed Him to keep thriving and keep moving.

In both situations today, after being horribly betrayed & rejected by his own people, David could have taken his army and wiped those people out.

But he didn’t.

He turned to God instead. 

And that’s what we want to do as well. 

And because of what Jesus has done in the New Testament, we can do this…and understand this…in an even greater way than David ever could have

There’s a number of things I want you to understand about God’s Son, Jesus, that ought to change how you deal with rejection and betrayal.

For starters, when we’re betrayed or rejected…or even abandoned, we must know that so was Jesus.

Jesus had 12 loyal disciples. 

And yet, he was handed over to be killed, by none other than one of his 12 disciples…Judas

Jesus himself labels that act as…betrayal. 

And think about what Jesus is doing in His coming to earth…He’s coming on a rescue mission.

And yet his own people, the Jews, almost entirely rejected him as their Savior.

(John 1:10-11) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION!!!!!!

10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 

It’s pretty similar to his precursor, David.

David, like Jesus, goes on a rescue mission of his own people in Keilah…and yet he’s rejected, betrayed, about to be sold out by the very people he came to save!

So listen, it’s important, that you understand Jesus knows exactly how you feel.

Remember, God wasn’t just taking notes on your pain. 

Jesus came and felt what you feel.

He knows it what it feels like.

(John 15:18) – NIV

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 

So if you’re feeling hurt…as I imagine some of you are…God is the best person to talk to.

You may feel like no one else can even understand…but He can.

His betrayal and rejection led to death.

He can understand. 

Talk to Him.

Bring him your burdens.

Let Him carry some of your load.

And really, there’s even more to what Jesus did…because not only did he merely experience rejection & betrayal…

He was rejected so that one day, you will never have to experience rejection again.

About 700 years before Jesus, the prophet Isaiah wrote one of the greatest prophecies the world has ever received.

Look at what he wrote about Jesus (700 years before Jesus was born)

(Isaiah 53:3-5) – NIV

 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

In speaking of Jesus, he says that Jesus would take up your pain…he would bear your suffering for you.

See, Jesus was rejected and separated from God on the cross, so you wouldn’t have to be rejected. 

If you put your faith in Jesus…in Him dying for you on the cross, you will never have to experience the ultimate rejection.

Being separated from God…from life…from happiness

In heaven, you will never experience rejection again.

And those not in heaven, will always experience it.  

And because Jesus experienced it for you, you are His and He will never leave you.

That’s where this gets even deeper…even richer.

Let me explain:

Author Lee Strobel once wrote of a story that took place after the Korean war.

Not long after the war ended, a Korean woman had an affair with an American soldier, and she got pregnant.

He went back to the United States, and she never saw him again.

She gave birth to a little girl, and this little girl looked different than the other Korean children.

She had light-colored, curly hair.

Unfortunately, in that culture (at that time), children of mixed race were ostracized by the community.

In fact, many women would kill their children because they didn't want them to face such rejection.

But this woman didn't do that. She tried to raise her little girl as best she could.

For seven years she tried to do that, until the rejection was too much…and she abandoned her little girl to the streets.

Utter rejection.  Abandoned by your own mom.

This little girl was ruthlessly taunted by people.

They called her “alien devil”

It didn't take long for this little girl to draw conclusions about herself based on the way people treated her.

For two years she lived in the streets, until finally she made her way to an orphanage.

One day, word came that a couple from America was going to adopt a little boy.

 All the children in the orphanage got excited, because at least one little boy was going to have hope. He was going to have a family.

The next day, the couple came, and this is what the girl recalled: "It was like Goliath had come back to life. I saw the man with his huge hands lift up each and every baby. I knew he loved every one of them as if they were his own. I saw tears running down his face, and I knew if they could, they would have taken the whole lot home with them.”

Years later, in reflection, she writes, "He saw me out of the corner of his eye. Now let me tell you. I was nine years old, but I didn't even weigh 30 pounds. I was a scrawny thing. I had worms in my body. I had lice in my hair. I had boils all over me. I was full of scars. I was not a pretty sight. But the man came over to me, and he began rattling away something in English, and I looked up at him. Then he took this huge hand and laid it on my face. What was he saying? He was saying, 'I want this child. This is the child for me.'"

And that’s how God, your Father, feels about you

Even though the world may reject you, betray you, and maybe even abandon you…Jesus will not. 

He wants you…He came for you…and He’ll never leave you.

What comfort there is in that!

And so this oughta change how we look at our own pain and rejection.

So many of us…right now…we’re just running hot on the treadmill of anger.

We can’t let go of our anger…so we keep running. 

And in doing so, we keep God on the sidelines. 

But look over to Jesus.

Press stop on the treadmill…offer your hand to Him, and step off.

Here’s a hard truth:  The world is going to keep on hurting you.

You haven’t experienced the last of rejection and hurt…even of betrayal.

But you’ll never find rest on the treadmill of anger.

Get off…walk closer with Jesus.

He’ll never reject you.

One of the main questions you have to ask about David in the Bible…if you read all of 1 Samuel…is: “How does this guy do it?”

People are constantly hanging him out to dry and Saul is constantly trying to MURDER him for goodness sakes!

How does He do it? 

How does he survive?

Most of us are depressed even if somebody at work just says something mean to us.

He just keeps turning to God.

“God, what do I do next?” 

“God, where do I go?”

And he doesn’t hold it over people.

You’re going to see in House Groups this week, as we look at the next chapter, chapter 24, he even gets an easy opportunity to KILL Saul…but he won’t do it.

He’s not on the treadmill of anger.

He knows there’s no life in revenge.

He refuses to get on the treadmill of anger because He knows it won’t work.

It’s not going to get him anywhere. 

 When David turns to God instead of his anger…and it allows Him to keep thriving and keep moving.

If David gets stuck in his anger about people rejecting him…

He probably would have been still stuck in Keilah battling those people when Saul’s enormous army arrives.

If David, in anger, decides to go after the people of Ziph for selling him out to Saul…

He probably would have lost some of his own men doing it…

But when you get off the treadmill of anger, you can keep thriving, and move on. 

Anger gets you stuck…running in the same place…

And when you stay stuck…you compound your issues.

And you don’t find rest.

David doesn’t completely ignore it.

Just liked we talked about last week: He brings his pain to God…throughout many of the Psalms (Psalm 54 is even about his pain from today’s event)

But he seeks reconciliation where he can…and he always eventually gives it up to God…

And listen, God is saying to you right now…c’mon.. let’s leave it behind.

I know.  Let’s go. 

Take his hand.

And so like David, we have to keep turning our rejection over to God

When the world rejects you, seek the one who was rejected for you…because he’ll never reject you.

When the world betrays you, seek the one who was betrayed for you…because He’ll never betray you.

He’ll never leave you.

He understands

And as he forgave those who rejected him…

And as He has forgave us in our imperfections, may He give us the strength to forgive others in theirs.  

Let me pray. 

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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