Betrayal. What is it?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says to betray is to “fail or desert, especially in time of need,” to “lead astray,” or to “deliver to an enemy by treachery.”

Wikipedia defines betrayal as “the breaking or violation of a presumptive contract, trust, or confidence” and is often a “complete break from previously decided upon or presumed norms.”

Even though most of us cannot define it as well as Merriam-Webster or Wikipedia, we all know what betrayal is, and we all know very well how it feels. Everyone reading this has experienced the pain of having someone violate our trust, fail or desert us in a time of need, lead us astray, or even betray us to a perceived enemy. The ways in which we can be betrayed are too many to list, and the times that each one of us has been betrayed in one way or another are too many to remember.

There are many betrayals we experience that hurt for a moment and are quickly forgotten. I remember the time in fifth grade when I betrayed my best friend Omar by telling the new girl Andrea that he liked her. He wasn’t happy with me, but I’m pretty sure he got over it rather quickly. Then there are some betrayals that take a little more time to get over. Like the time in fifth grade when I asked my friend Larry to find out what Melissa would say if I asked her to be my girlfriend. He came back and told me that she would say yes. Well, I finally got up the nerve to ask her on the bus and she yelled out, “God, no!” in front of everyone on the bus. Now, Larry lying to me about her response and laughing at my horrifying embarrassment was a betrayal that took a little longer to get over. I am proud to say that I am finally fully over that. (But I will never forget it. It was horrible.)

There are other betrayals that are not as quickly forgotten but have such a powerful impact on us that they forever change who we are. Many times, these types of betrayals come from those who are most important to us. Sometimes being betrayed by a friend is something we laugh about later in life, like the two examples I just gave you from when I was in fifth grade. But sometimes the betrayal of a friend wounds us deeply and destroys the friendship. Sometimes friends make mistakes, and we eventually forgive them and go on with our lives. And sometimes friends intentionally betray us in a way that reveals something we didn’t know about their character that forever changes the way we view them, and we realize that we can no longer trust them as we previously did. I would bet that as you read this many of you have instances coming to mind and bringing back some of the pain of the betrayal. The betrayal of a close friend can have long-lasting results in our lives.

There is also the betrayal of a brother or sister. You’ve heard the saying, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.” Well, this saying often comes up when talking about siblings. We all believe that brothers and sisters should watch out for each other and have each other’s backs. Now, this doesn’t mean that brothers and sisters won’t torture each other both physically and emotionally. Because, they will. I think that’s a somewhat normal part of being siblings. But, we expect our brother or sister to come to our rescue when others who are not family members mess with us. I think the normal thought process of a sibling is, “I can beat up and torture my brother or sister, but don’t let me catch you laying a finger on them.” This is kind of the unwritten rule I believe. I think we all kind of understand this, and that’s why it hurts so much to have a brother or sister choose someone else over us. A sibling is supposed to be a best friend down deep, under all that sometimes mean exterior. Therefore, the betrayal of a sibling is a truly painful thing that is not easily forgotten. I’m sure many of you know exactly what I am talking about.

There is another type of betrayal. It is the horrible betrayal of the child by its parent. I would bet that many of you reading this have experienced this type of betrayal. You have been abandoned by a parent who practically disappeared from your life after a divorce, or you were abandoned to foster care, or you were abandoned by a parent that was physically there every day but emotionally absent. Or maybe your betrayal by your parent didn’t come in the form of abandonment but was in the form of physical or sexual abuse. Being betrayed by a parent usually changes us for the rest of our lives.

There is also the betrayal of a girlfriend/boyfriend, a fiancé, or a spouse. This betrayal can sometimes be more horrible than the betrayal of a parent. Being betrayed by a girlfriend/boyfriend or a fiancé can truly be devastating. I would not attempt to minimize the pain that some of you have experienced by this type of betrayal. But I do believe that the betrayal of a spouse is one of the worst betrayals a person can experience. Your spouse is the person who looked you in the eye, told you they loved you and wanted to spend the rest of their life with you, and then stood before a crowd of witnesses and made a covenant with you and God that they would love and honor you till death do you part. Your spouse is that one person that you expect to stand by your side even if the rest of humanity turns against you. They are the person you would die to protect, and you hope they would do the same for you. They are your spouse, best friend, and lover. You share all of yourself with them. You are no longer living two separate lives, but you are now two people living one life. God’s word even says you are one flesh. How could your spouse even entertain the thought of betraying you? Oh, the horrifying pain of that kind of betrayal. Oh, the shattered trust. How could you not be forever changed by a spouse that abuses you physically, emotionally or sexually, or who joins themselves sexually to another person, or who walks away forever abandoning you? Many of you have experienced this horrifying betrayal.

But, there is a betrayal worse than all these types of betrayal put together. There is a betrayal that makes all other betrayals pale in comparison. It was the time 2,000 years ago when God the Father appeared to betray God the Son.

If there was ever a man that did not deserve to be betrayed it was Jesus, who was God the Son clothed in human flesh. Jesus had never been anything but obedient to God the Father, and yet the sovereign God of this universe saw fit to allow Jesus to be betrayed by a man named Judas. This betrayal eventually led to Jesus being crucified on a cross, where, just before dying, he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) Then Jesus died and was taken down from the cross and was buried.

At the time, this appeared to be the greatest betrayal since the creation of the universe. It appeared that God the Father had forsaken God the Son. And if that had been the end of the story, it would have been the greatest betrayal to ever take place. But it was not the end of the story. God the Father raised Jesus from the dead and welcomed him back into heaven, where he is alive and well today, waiting for the time when he will return to earth to gather all of God’s children and take them back to heaven with him where they will spend eternity in the glorious presence of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

You see, what appeared to be a horrifying betrayal of God the Son by God the Father was actually part of the Father’s plan to save us and restore our relationship with him through the sacrifice of his Son.

But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.
— Isaiah 53:10–11 NLT

Just as the apparent betrayal of God the Son by God the Father was part of the Father’s sovereign plan to save us and restore our relationship with him, you need to understand that every betrayal you have ever experienced or will ever experience is part of the Father’s sovereign plan also. The Father is not sitting in heaven passively as you are here on earth being betrayed by those you love and trust. He is not sitting there too impotent to do something about it. Your pain is all part of his plan. Your fear and misery and brokenness are all part of his plan. Just as the Jesus’ betrayal was part of his plan, so also is your betrayal part of his plan. It is all part of his plan to save you and restore your relationship with him.

When you suffer the horrifying pain of betrayal, run to the Father and fall at his feet and cry out to him to rescue you from your despair. This is what the Father wants. This is why he allows you to be betrayed. The Father knows that you need him above all other things, and he knows that most of the time you will not come to him unless your despair is more than you can handle. So, your loving Father allows you to be betrayed, so you will become overwhelmed with despair, and you will run to him for rescue, and he can love and comfort you.

Oh, what a loving Father we have that does not allow us to stay far off but allows us to suffer the betrayal that sends us running home to his loving arms, so he can take care of us.

So, child, run to him! Run to him! Run into the arms of your loving Father!