I recently interviewed a guest for my podcast, Rooted by the Stream. The conversation will air Jan. 19. I had heard my guest tell her story once before. She spoke about the failure of her first marriage, of her husband’s addiction to pornography and his infidelity. Though they sought pastoral help and worked with counselors at many points over many years, eventually, their marriage ended in divorce. Then she began the hard work of figuring out how to handle betrayal and its deep pain.
During her marriage, she had been crushed by rejection. “How could he do this?” she found herself thinking so often. “Am I not enough?” After the divorce, just trying to get through each day while helping her daughters with their pain took so much strength.
But from that crushed state of rejection and loneliness, she grew and rose up, with God’s help, until today she is a radiantly beautiful soul once again, helping many people through her profession. She has remarried and has four daughters now in her blended family.
Is There Healing for the Broken Heart After Betrayal?
My guest would answer the question, “Is there healing for a betrayed heart?” with a hearty yes! But, the healing involved leaning into God like never before. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you,” she quoted from James 4:8. In leaning deeply into God, she found a fresh sense of His profound love for her, a new picture of who she really is, and she found healing for some of her own character flaws.
So just surviving the pain of betrayal was not all she accomplished over several years. With God’s help, she learned how to thrive again and even shared a set of phrases about what surviving is versus what thriving is which she learned from Pastor Samuel Rodriguez. I’ll share them first and then speak about some steps in overcoming betrayal.
The Journey from Surviving to Thriving
From Pastor Samuel Rodriguez:
“To survive, you must learn to climb out of hell. To thrive you must learn to bring heaven down.”
“Surviving is about overcoming. Thriving is about overflow.”
“Surviving requires grace. Thriving demands holiness.”
“To survive, you must ask God to forgive your sins. To thrive you must learn to forgive those who have sinned against you.”
“Surviving is about getting the blessing. Thriving is about becoming the blessing.
“Surviving requires a clean heart. Thriving demands a renewed mind.”
To survive is Jacob’s limp. To thrive is Jacob’s ladder.”
“Surviving is manna and water in the desert. Thriving is milk and honey in the promised land.”
“Surviving is about building altars and thriving is about tearing false altars down.”
“Surviving is a process. Thriving is an outcome.”
“To survive you must fight. To thrive you must build.”
“Surviving is about you. Thriving is about your children, and your children’s children, and your children’s children’s children.”
“Surviving is where God changes you. Thriving is where, you, in Christ, change the world.”
Five Biblical Helps for Surviving Betrayal
1. Know That You are Not the Only One
It may seem like small comfort, but when we read the Bible, we read many stories of betrayal – Joseph by his brothers, Samson by Delilah, and ultimately Jesus by Judas Iscariot. As we read these accounts, that helps us to know we are not the “singular fool” and the only one who’s ever found themselves in this position.
Beyond stories, there are verses that speak of this all too common life experience. Listen to these verses from Psalm 55:
“Now it is not an enemy who insults me – otherwise I could bear it; it is not a foe who rises up against me – otherwise I could hide from him. But it is you, a man who is my peer, my companion and good friend! We used to have close fellowship; we walked with the crowd into the house of God.” (Psalm 55:12-14)
A little further on in the psalm are these words, “My friend acts violently against those at peace with him; he violates his covenant, His buttery words are smooth, but war is in his heart. His words are softer than oil, but they are drawn swords.” (v. 20-21)
We hate to discover that we have been tricked, lied to, cheated on – especially by a friend, co-worker, or spouse. The flood of feelings – rejection, heartache, loneliness, rage, fear, and more that races through us when we discover betrayal is so painful. We fear, at times, we’ll lose control. The Bible comforts us as we realize: God knows. It’s happened many times to many people.
2. God Comforts and Helps Us With His Love
Consequently, as we read the Bible and search it for comfort, we find so much help. God’s Word is full of words of love for us. Our torn up identity, after betrayal, so needs rebuilding. In scripture we hear God say, “You are precious and honored in my sight…because I love you…” (Isaiah 43:4)
These, and so many more words in scripture, speak to the truth.
God is love and He loves you. In your mind you may hear the enemy of your soul say, “You were hurt because you deserved it.” There may be words, thoughts, of your lack of value and worthlessness. Scripture can counter the lies that torment you. Our loving God, through the Bible, builds you back up.
God is with Us in the Pain of Betrayal
God, Himself, walks with people in the pain of betrayal. Think of the story of Joseph in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. If you don’t know this story, take time to find it (begins in Genesis 37) and read. It’s such a good one! You will see many of the experiences that all of us have captured in this story.
Joseph was betrayed by his own brothers, sold into slavery. Afterward, the brothers told their father that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. Once in Egypt, as a slave, though doing excellent work for the man who owned him, Joseph was falsely accused by the man’s wife of assault. Enraged, the master put Joseph in prison.
But there, we read this verse:
“…while Joseph was there in prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.” Genesis 39:20-21 Though hurt and wronged, God was always with Joseph. God is with you too. He is with us in the darkest valleys of our lives.
3. Accept Your Feelings, Grieve, Get Help
“The Bible tells us that there is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:4
You were deeply hurt if betrayed. It is alright to take time for that. When tears are there, let them flow. You lost a great deal if a relationship is broken. However, know that if someone betrayed you and has no remorse about it, then you are fortunate that door closed. There are other people who will love you and be loyal to you. God will bring them into your life.
If you feel as if you are “drowning” in your hurt feelings, find help and support – a pastor, a counselor, dear friends who will listen patiently and pray with you and for you. Get the help you need.
4. Forgive the One Who Betrayed You
This is one of the hard steps in the process of “coming back to life.” It is important to forgive the person who harmed you. Now, this does not mean bring them back into your life. That can happen if they sincerely and permanently change. Otherwise, you do not have to reunite.
Forgiveness does not mean you excuse wickedness either. If someone has hurt you deeply and they are in the wrong and unrepentant, their behavior remains inexcusable.
What forgiveness does mean is that you release bitterness towards them. You leave them in the hands of God. But, you let them off the hook in your own heart. We often pray from the Lord’s Prayer:
“Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us…”
A truly excellent book on forgiving others is Total Forgiveness by Pastor R.T. Kendall.
5. Grow Again in Our Resurrecting God
Finally, really look at this “wilderness” time – the time of being alone and lonely, in transition – as a time to grow really close to God. Pore over a Bible, pray, attend worship services, worship in your own home and private space. Watch and wait. God will speak and His presence will be glorious. The Bible says:
“…I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” Hosea 2:14
I remember going through a time of pain in my life because I had been hurt and betrayed by others.
But, I remember it also being a glorious time of becoming profoundly aware of God. His nearness and nurture were worth more than anything else on earth.
Yes, the suffering was awful, but His presence was glorious, and I healed and became far better. You will too.
Betrayal May Come in Other Forms
Some, in these days, are feeling betrayed by more than people in close relationships. People are feeling betrayed by national leaders, the media, and other public figures. Though this is a different form of betrayal, it still hurts deeply and there is also a sense of, “How do I go on?”
All that has been said above still applies. Dig yourself deeply into God. Stay steeped in His word. Forgive and forgive some more. Look to God for guidance on how to live vibrantly in the days ahead.
Below is a printable of Bible verses on God’s comfort when you feel very hurt and alone. These verses bring tremendous comfort. I encourage you to click on the image and print it off. Put it in your Bible as well as look for more of these types of verses to hide in your heart.
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