By Danielle Hofer
He reached for the bottle again.
She went behind my back and didn’t keep my confidences.
My son relapsed.
My parents won’t speak to me.
She no longer invites me to girls’ night.
She’s an adulteress.
My child is a disappointment.
My dad wasn’t there when I needed him.
We’ve all felt betrayed by someone. Whether in a marriage, a friendship, or family relationship, someone has betrayed our trust. These betrayals can break apart relationships because of their long-lasting sting.
We know life is messy in general. We’re born into a broken and sinful world and thus, we are a broken and sinful people. We’re going to get hurt, likely by someone close to us. And betrayal in any form can easily discourage us from loving because it’s so hard to recover from.
When Jesus was asked, “What is the most important commandment?” he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Mark 12:30–31 NIV). We’re reminded to love God and love others with the type of love God showers on us—an agape type of love. Agape is love given with grace. Doing for others out of love, even when it’s undeserved.
If you’re like me, when I experience a betrayal of any sort, I want to cut off the source of the pain and move on. The pain is so deep that I feel it in my core and want it gone instantly. Or maybe you’re the type who chooses to numb the pain with food, alcohol, recreational drugs, or even escapisms like Netflix binges.
Jesus faced betrayal too, and by one of the people closest to him. During his last meal with the disciples, Jesus mentions that one of them will betray him. They tell him they don’t believe it. “Jesus replies, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me’” (Matthew 26:23 NIV). Jesus even calls Judas out as the betrayer.
Do we see Jesus wallowing in the sting of the betrayal he knows is coming? Does he play the blame game? Lecture? Belittle? No, Jesus still breaks bread with Judas. He eats with him! He prays over him. Then, in verse 30, we see them worship together.
Jesus’s ultimate betrayer got to worship with him.
How different would our relationships look if we worshiped with those who betrayed us? If we still sat down to eat with them at our tables? If we could love others the way Jesus loves us, so full of grace that we don’t deserve? How different would our marriages look if we didn’t allow Satan a foothold because of our inability to love when we’re betrayed?
Actions speak louder than words. Whoever or whatever is ruling our hearts will surely show when we’re hit with a situation that makes it hard to love. Our first response should be hitting our knees, professing that Jesus is Lord and that he is ultimately in control. He faced betrayal himself, yet chose to love, eat with, and worship with his betrayer. Even in the midst of our pain, we must allow Jesus to work in us so he can work through us.
With our eyes on Jesus in the hard times, our emotions change. We begin to realize the person who hurt us is also broken. We see the battle isn’t with that person, but with the enemy who wants to bury us alive. We see—oh, Jesus, we see—the battle takes what Satan intends to destroy and uses it for God’s glory.
Love, the way God intended us to love one another, isn’t about being pleased. It isn’t about feelings. It’s about making ourselves nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, humbling ourselves, and becoming obedient. We are commissioned to love even when it’s hard.
Danielle Hofer chooses to love intentionally the faces placed in front of her, including the women she teaches and leads at her local church. Most important to her are her husband of eleven years and her three children. Danielle writes over at CryinginmyCheesecake.com.