Question: “How can I overcome the pain of betrayal?”
Betrayal is a gross violation of trust and can be one of the most
devastating forms of pain inflicted upon a human being. The suffering of
betrayal is often magnified by a sense of vulnerability and exposure. For many,
the pain of betrayal is worse than physical violence, deceit, or prejudice.
Betrayal destroys the foundation of trust.
David was no stranger to
betrayal: “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were
raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like
myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
as we walked with the throng at the house of God” (Psalm 55:12-14). The closer the relationship, the greater
the pain of betrayal.
Jesus knew the pain of betrayal firsthand. The
worst, most treacherous betrayal of all time was Judas’s betrayal of Jesus for
thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15). “Even my own familiar friend in whom I
trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9, NKJV; cf. John
13:18). But Jesus did not become vindictive, bitter, or angry. Just the
opposite. After receiving the traitor’s kiss, Jesus addressed Judas as “friend”
Despite the pain, there is a way we can overcome betrayal.
The power comes directly from God and the strength of forgiveness.
David laments a broken trust in Psalm 55, he provides a clue to how to overcome
the pain. He says, “But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning
and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice” (Psalm 55:16-17).
The first key is to cry out to
God. Though we may want to strike out at the betrayer, we need to take our cause
to the Lord. “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with
blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing”
(1 Peter 3:9).
key in overcoming the pain of betrayal is to remember Jesus’ example. Our sinful
nature impels us to “repay evil with evil,” but Jesus taught us otherwise: “Do
not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to
him the other also. . . . Pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:39, 44). When Jesus “was
abused, he did not return abuse” (1 Peter 2:23). We should conform to His example by not
repaying abuse for abuse, including the abuse of betrayal. Believers are to do
good even to those who harm them.
Another powerful key in overcoming the
bitterness of betrayal is our God-given ability to forgive the betrayer. The
word forgiveness includes the word give. When we choose to forgive
someone, we actually give that person a gift—the freedom from personal
retaliation. But you are also giving yourself a gift—a “grudge-free life.”
Trading our bitterness and anger for the love of God is a wonderful, life-giving
Jesus taught that “loving our neighbor as ourselves” should be
proactive: “But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute
you” (Matthew 5:44). Without
question, it is enormously difficult to forgive a person who’s betrayed our
trust. It is only possible with God (see Luke
Those who have experienced God’s love understand what it
means to be loved unconditionally and undeservedly. Only with the help of God’s
Spirit can we love and pray for those who seek to do us harm (Romans
Recommended Resources: How to Win Over Depression by Tim Lahaye.