It’s a nasty, stinging word.
It’s something we all comprehend, but maybe have not all gone through.
When I hear the word betrayal, the same picture comes to my mind every time. I see a person- jaw slowly dropping and eyes widening, as they find out that someone they trusted turned them in. Maybe to authorities, maybe to bad guys, I don’t know. But that’s what I see, and at the end of this little picture, the person that has done the betraying turned their back away so they don’t have to see the face of the other person.
Kids actually learn about betrayal in schools- in elementary school we learned that Benedict Arnold was the face of betrayal, as he committed treason against the United States during the Revolutionary War. In literature, we learned that the famous Italian poet Dante reserves the innermost circle of hell for traitors.
But what does it mean to actually be betrayed? What does it look like?
In my life, it has two different faces.
The first face is that of a person. I went through a season that was very difficult, and there was one person I counted on above all others to be there. She wasn’t. She tried to be, but she wasn’t able to support me the way I needed her to. I ended up feeling hurt, abandoned, lost, confused, angry, and bitter. I even wrote out an overly dramatic psalm about my experience and the face of betrayal. It helped a lot at the time, and I started to really think about betrayal. I realized that before that moment, I had never really experienced betrayal from a person.
The other face is that of circumstance. It’s humbling- a constant reminder that we are not in control; that I am not in control. It looks like doing everything right but things still go wrong… Like taking impeccable care of your car and finding out there is a problem that will cost a thousand dollars to fix. Sending all the paperwork in early only to find it somehow never arrived at its destination. Never drinking tap water or eating fresh foods and finding out you still have parasites in Africa.
Sometimes we can do everything right and our friends may betray us. Our knowledge betrays us. Our preparation, our education, our work ethic, our good standing… sometimes life throws it back in our faces.
Over Easter, I thought a lot about Jesus and Judas.
Even though Jesus knew he was going to be betrayed, until this year I never thought about how he must have felt.
He poured into Judas.
He trusted him with money.
He gave him the special teaching and attention that he gave all the disciples.
He loved him.
In the end, Judas still handed him over. And for what? A bag of coins.
Of course this is all part of God’s beautifully orchestrated plan to make up for OUR sin, but I’m sure it still hurt Jesus.
Hurt him to see the guards, led by Judas. To know that their friendship was thrown out like dirty dishwater. To be greeted with a kiss, a warm gesture of greeting masking evil intentions.
Can you imagine?
God could have orchestrated it so that the Romans found Jesus another way. There were PLENTY of people who were willing to turn him in. But that’s not how it happened. He was betrayed, and because he was betrayed, he is able to sympathize with us.
He understands the feeling of betrayal when one spouse cheated.
He understands the feeling of betrayal when a friend disappears from your life.
He understands the feeling of betrayal when someone you love hurts you.
He understands the feeling of betrayal when you are doing your best in all areas and life still seems to just throw back crap.
He understands the feeling of betrayal when your friend/family member takes their side (whoever the opposing side may be).
He gets it. Because he went though it, we are blessed. He wants to be there for you, to stand in the gap for you, to understand you, and to say,
I will never leave you nor forsake you.