Love is Worth the Risk... Dealing with Betrayal
"For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful have opened against me. They have spoken against me with a lying tongue. They have also surrounded me with words of hatred and fought against me without a cause. In return for my love they are my accusers, but I give myself to prayer. Thus they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.” – Psalm 109:2-5
Hey friends, maybe some of you can identify with this Psalm? I know we experienced this in a very painful way a while back. A whole community (except a very few people) turned against us with just a few words from a few false accusers. It was devastating to watch nearly 15 years of a loving ministry where we gladly poured out everything we had (time, money, prayers, service, and love) get erased in a few short months as though history had been re-written. But I have no room to be on a high horse looking down upon anyone. As much as I could claim victim status, I know that I have probably been on the wrong side of this same equation more times than I am even aware. None of us is guilt-free in this area.
But I am here to tell you some good news. First, you are not alone. Not only did we experience this, but so has just about anyone who has stuck their neck out to help someone in the name of love. The Psalmist that wrote this verse obviously experienced this kind of betrayal and was so hurt by it that he wanted God to punish his false accusers. But the most severe example of this kind of betrayal is Jesus himself. He was betrayed by the very people he came to serve and heal and love and ultimately forgive and save. He was crucified by that same group.
But here comes the good news: God is the Master of Redemption. He takes a pile of ashes and turns it to a life of beauty. He turns mourning into everlasting joy. He is ready, willing, and able to take your spirit of heaviness and turn it into a garment of praise that can never be torn again.
The key is to understand how Jesus handled things. Unlike this Psalmist (who we can all identify with) who cried out to God to destroy his accusers and their families, Jesus prayed fervently to God to forgive the very people who had just beaten him and driven nails into his hands and feet and hung him on a tree to die a slow, painful, publicly disgraceful death. He shouted, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” WOW!
With that in mind, I want to encourage you on a few things:
Jesus knows your pain. He suffered more than any of us ever will. So, talk to him about it. He will understand.
Don’t buy off on the narrative. Cherish the memories and experiences you had before this incident. They were real and beautiful no matter what anyone is now saying. No, you are not perfect. But you are not perfectly evil either. Don’t let the lies replace the truth of the beautiful experiences you have had. They are yours to keep and treasure forever.
Guard your heart against becoming callused. I know you are tempted to withdraw and become protective of your heart so that no one else can hurt it. But the weird thing about the heart is that the more we try and protect it from feeling pain, the less we get to feel love. LOVE IS WORTH THE RISK! That is the message of Jesus on the cross.
Don’t try to“get strong”. Allow the truth of suffering to keep you weak in your flesh. That way you must rely on Jesus to strengthen you in your spirit. Fleshly strength fails, but Godly strength is invincible. No fists… just open palms raised to heaven.
Jesus has a plan. He is ready to do something amazing in this when you are ready to let him have control again. From Joseph and King David to Jesus himself, the Bible is full of encouragement about how God takes what the enemy intends for bad and turns it into something magnificent. Read Romans Chapter 8 (a lot).
Fight not against flesh and blood. The key to unlocking the redemption is to understand that the people who hurt you are not your enemy. So free yourself by freely forgiving them because they know not what they are doing. Love them even when it doesn’t feel all gooey inside. Eventually, that gooey feeling comes back. They may never know what they did. They may never ask you your side of the story, but they are human beings just like you with struggles of their own and probably even betrayals of their own. So, pray for them with compassion.
Start moving forward again. It's time to watch as Jesus grows something utterly amazing in your renewed fertile heart. It’s time to start living again! Time to smile again. Time to love again. Time to live again!
Lastly, I invite you to listen to this awesome testimony and song by Danny Gokey...
Blessings on you all.