Posted: 10/11/19 at 1:10pm. Column by Ed Jordan.
One of the most painful things we encounter in life is betrayal.
Occasionally a person we trust does something that feels like betrayal, but they really don’t intended it that way.
Less frequently, but more painful, is when we experience a trusted friend’s intentional plan to undermine or betray us.
I think it is important for us to differentiate between premeditated betrayal and someone’s poor or selfish decisions which to us feel like an act of betrayal. In both cases trust is broken, which lies at the heart of betrayal. In both cases, the betrayer forfeits trust.
But it is harder to deal with the pain of someone who premeditated and plotted to betray us, and then carried it out, than with what happens when the act was the result of a reactionary, spontaneous sinful act with no conscious thought of betraying us.
I do not wish to diminish the pain of broken trust in either scenario. But the pain caused by a betrayal that is pre-planned, thoroughly plotted, and intentionally undertaken for the purpose of demolishing another person is devastation. I hope that you have never experienced it.
Unfortunately, betrayal can occur too frequently in a workplace. Someone sees a coworker as a threat to their own advancement, so plans are put in place to undermine the coworker with the leadership so that person will never be considered for promotions—leaving the betrayer as the only viable promotional candidate.
Probably the most famous act of betrayal in history occurred when Judas, one of the first 12 disciples who followed Jesus, arranged for the Jewish leaders to arrest Jesus and turn him over to Pilate to be condemned and crucified.
This plan was shocking in its heartless execution. Judas plotted that the person he kissed on the cheek would be arrested. In Matthew 26:49–50 (NIV), we read: Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus, and arrested him.
Judas then became grieved that he had betrayed Jesus and tried to give back the money that he was paid for the betrayal, but they wouldn’t take it. Then Judas, in his shame, went out and hung himself.
Premeditated betrayal is always costly. It destroys relationships, reputations, families, jobs, and often the confidence of the person betrayed.
So how can we deal with being betrayed, so that it does not destroy us?
There are some pointers in the way Jesus dealt with being betrayed. One of the things that makes betrayal so painful is that we are often unaware that the person we trust is actively betraying us. The pain of being blindsided by someone we trust knocks us for a loop.
Jesus, however, knew that Judas was going to betray him. Regardless, Jesus did not get involved with a tit-for-tat match. Jesus had entrusted his life to carry out the Father’s will. He knew that in the greater scheme of things, he was to be betrayed and hung on a cross to die for our sins. So Jesus’ commitment to do God’s will, and awareness that God was ultimately in control, gave Jesus peace in the midst of betrayal.
We, too, need to daily live our lives for God and trust God in the midst of experiencing betrayal.
We also need to forgive the person who betrayed us. This does not mean we ignore what was done. It does mean that we will follow our Lord’s lead and not return evil for evil.
Release the person into the hand of God, and let God deal with the person. Pray for them to realize what they have done and to change their life. Keep the wound clean and disinfected with prayer and forgiveness. Pray for your enemies to meet God and change.
Learn from the event. What are some warning signs that you can now see that should have given you concern and caution?
Spend time reading God’s word to discover how to build trust into your life again. Ask God not to let you become bitter from the wounds inflicted.
Give healing some time. Time helps us gain perspective, heal, and regain our confidence.
Spend time with friends whom you know you can trust, so that you have some good experiences to counter the pain from the one who shattered your trust, and regain the ability to trust people again.
Realize that betrayal is more about the character of the person who betrays than about the victim of the betrayal. However, being able to stand up again, heal, and learn to trust again, will reveal your character and your faith in God to get you through even the worst experiences of life.