• Richard Parrish

Handling Betrayal


I don’t understand. It doesn’t make sense. It isn’t right. How could she do that? What was he thinking? How could they?


These questions that come to mind as a result of betrayal are typical. I’ve found myself expressing my bewilderment and pain when my trust was violated.


Betrayal is a violation or breaking of trust. Most of us know what it’s like for someone to betray us. It hurts when our confidence is breached. Betrayal happens in various ways: Someone defaults on a contract, a husband or wife has an affair, or a confidential conversation becomes public.


All betrayals may not be equal in the severity of suffering. However, each violation of trust leaves an impact on us. We lose confidence and respect for those who do not keep their word. We suffer pain and become guarded.


Please do me a favor. Stop right now and identify who it is that’s betrayed you. Chances are pretty good that it didn’t take you long to identify the person(s).


The wounds of betrayal do not heal quickly. It takes time to regain trust.


Without a good process to handle betrayal, it’s tempting to isolate ourselves from others. We find ourselves unintentionally putting up walls and—over time, we become bitter.


Here are some things I’ve learned—and am learning—in knowing how to forgive and respond when trust is violated.


Acknowledge that the betrayal of a friend is more significant than an enemy.


King David understands this:

“For it is not an enemy who taunts me—then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng” (Psalm 55:12-14).

We can expect an enemy to betray us, but not a friend. That’s why the pain is so much greater.


Remember: God is the only One who is trustworthy.


Betrayal is a stern reminder that only God is entirely reliable. It’s easy for me to place my hope and confidence in others, rather than God.


I want to believe that I can completely trust a friend, spouse, a confident and fellow follower of Jesus. When our trust is violated, we are reminded: Only God is worthy of trust.


Isaiah reminds us: “Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock” (Is. 26:4).


Paul acknowledges God’s faithfulness:

“God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing, he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Rely on God’s insight, not your own.


The book of Proverbs reminds us: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”


My insight is not enough. What appears reasonable to me is not always a shared awareness with someone else. Recognizing this reminds me to ask the question: Was the betrayal intentional or unintentional?


Complain to God and not others.


It’s natural to want to voice disappointment to others regarding the person who betrayed me. But if I’m not careful, it becomes a way for me to return evil for evil and abuse for abuse.


Peter commands us: “Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing…” (1 Peter 3:9). When Jesus “was abused, he did not return abuse” (1 Peter 2:23).


Recognize there’s a little bit of “Judas” in me.


Judas was also a disciple of Jesus. However, all it took for him to betray Jesus was 30 pieces of silver: a costly and painful price (See Matthew 26:14-16).


Without my acknowledgment and ownership of my sinfulness, I, too, am inclined to betray others.


If your trust has been violated, here’s something to consider. Visualize the person(s) in your mind. Then, pronounce this blessing on them:

“May the LORD bless you and keep you. May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the LORD turn his face toward you and fill you with peace, now and always” - Numbers 6:24-26 (paraphrase).

It’s impossible to bless and curse at the same time!