Walk faithfully with Christ long enough, and I can guarantee that you will experience all of these things, and much more.
Some of it may be related to your faith – mockery from coworkers or family who are amused by your “old-fashioned” beliefs, or perhaps something more unsettling like losing your job or being threatened after standing up for what you believe.
Some it won’t be directly related to your faith, but rather the fact that every one of us is a broken and messed up sinner whose relationships and friendships consist of other equally broken and messed up sinners. A broken promise, a harsh word or slanderous accusation, or maybe even an extramarital affair – all of these things are forms of betrayal, and we all in various ways will experience the searing pain that comes from betrayal.
The question is, how should we as Christians respond to betrayal? If we know it’s coming (although we may not yet know what form it will take), we would be wise to prepare our hearts and minds in advance to respond to it. Here are three principles that can help prepare us to face betrayal, regardless of the form it takes:
Seek comfort in God alone. A common response to betrayal is reaching out to people around us for encouragement and support. There is surely a time and place for that, but it shouldn’t be the first place that we go. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 shows us a God who loves to comfort his hurting people. We are far better off running to the God who will comfort us and tell us what we need to hear, rather than to people who are likely to take sides or tell us what we want to hear.
Remember the Gospel. One of the ways that Satan attacks and attempts us to doubt God’s goodness is by telling us that we don’t deserve whatever hurt and pain we’re going through. Entertaining this lie leaves us indignant towards a God who would allow such a thing to happen. The Gospel reminds us that what we deserve is something far worse than the temporary pain we’re experiencing. Because of our own sin and the way that we have all betrayed God, we deserve eternal punishment and separation from him. But the Gospel also reminds us that Jesus was betrayed and received the punishment that he didn’t deserve so that we could be saved from the punishment we truly deserve.
Forgive. The pain of betrayal is real. It hurts deeply, and it takes a long time – perhaps even a lifetime – to heal. Harboring bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness in our hearts toward our betrayer certainly doesn’t make it any easier; if anything, it causes us to continually relive the pain they’ve put us through. The answer is not to excuse, justify, or minimize what they’ve done, but rather to call sin “sin” and work towards forgiveness. The truth is that someone else’s sinful action towards me pales in comparison to the way I’ve sinned against God, both before and after he saved me and made me his own. And yet, God loves to forgive. When we remember that we’ve been forgiven the insurmountable debt we owe God, it puts into perspective how miniscule the debt is that we’re owed by the one who betrays us (Matthew 18:23-35), and by God’s grace it allows us to begin moving towards forgiveness.