I can sit here today and issue a generic statement about how all of us occasionally feel betrayed by people to whom we have shown kindness. Yes, we all eventually are slapped in the face by people we’ve trusted. But today it’s personal, and the past few days have been a struggle for me.
I have felt violated and confused, and my initial response was rage. How could the kindness we’ve shown be reciprocated in such a way? How could my parameters of acceptable conduct be so vastly different from that of others who profess to share my worldview? How could people be so insensitive and inconsiderate? Worse yet, how could people not find the courage to apologize for the grief they have caused?
I may not find the specific answers to those questions, but Scripture shows me what my response should be.
Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. – Luke 6:28
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. – 1 Peter 3:9
So I am compelled to pray for those who have hurt me and the people I love. Part of me asks, “How, Lord?” But I am reminded that I am a sinner in desperate need of God’s grace. Like them, I have been foolish and inconsiderate and rude and easily led astray.
And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. – Ephesians 4:32
Am I hurt? Yes. And each reminder of my hurt must compel me to forgive. Forgiveness is a process, one we must continually nurture and not impede. We do this for the sake of our sanity and for the sake of our souls.
Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions. – Mark 11:25-26
Forgiveness also helps take our eyes off ourselves and fix them on the One who truly has been offended. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight. – Psalm 51:4
Forgiveness frees. It frees us from bitterness and selfishness. It frees us to experience peace, to love and to pray. (By this I do not mean to pray for a meteor to fall from the sky on those who have hurt you – not that I would ever pray that way.) I choose to walk in the freedom of forgiveness instead of remaining in bondage to betrayal. I am released. And so are those who have betrayed me.