Forgiving in the Midst of Betrayal

BY: Alicia Bradford, CK Stander
Betrayal and abandonment are astoundingly painful places to be. In my own experience of betrayal and abandonment facing divorce, I felt raw, like something unreal was happening. It was tempting to let self-pity be my companion. But instead, I found that this time of intense pain became a profound time of growing close to Jesus. Jesus knows this pain of abandonment and betrayal personally when He called out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 26:46); when He placed Himself in the hands of those who would reject Him and betray Him when He heard the crowd shout for Barabbas instead of calling out for their Holy One, their Bridegroom of the New Covenant. In these betrayals, as part of His path to the cross, He saw and took on Himself every betrayal and abandonment that ever has happened and ever will happen, those inflicted upon us, and those that we inflict. He knows our pain, and He comforts us there, but He also empowers us to forgive as He did.
 
At a particularly painful point in my stand, I felt on the verge of letting my heart become embittered. I could not seem to resist the power of the feelings that were overwhelming me. I cried out to Jesus to come and help me. As I prayed and cried, I felt a sense of not just being at the cross but of being hung upon it myself. I began to see that while I was indeed there, Jesus’ body was in front of mine, taking all the blows and the pain, while I was safe and at peace and comforted behind His body. Psalm 27:5 says, “For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent.” His body on the cross was the tent that covered me.
 
As I stayed there experiencing wonder at feeling so close to Him and so protected in that place, it became so real to me that I could almost smell His skin! He indicated to me to look out at the crowd below. I did, and I could so clearly hear Him speaking the words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) He asked me if I could say the words with Him. I shared with Him how much it hurt. I wondered if it would hurt less if I stopped walking the path of seeking reconciliation? He spoke to my heart that it hurt because I was allowing my heart to remain soft and open to love, and that while following Him could be painful and that it would take me to the cross at times, He would provide His perfect comfort. He reminded me that “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) As I said those words of forgiveness with Him, He enabled me to continue forgiving in and through Him, not only in that experience but to continue, strengthened in faith and hope.
 
For me, this time is now a treasured memory of time with the perfect Bridegroom. It enabled me to grow in hope as I experienced His power to help me do what I could not do on my own. Seek these times with Him. Ask Him to become real to you in this way. Let Him transform the pain into a time of deep communion, a place where hope and intimacy are built that no one can touch. There have been many other times since this particular time, where I have found myself on the cross. But He has always provided His touch of life to renew that which had become dead in me. He has always provided His ability to forgive, and He has restored my strength with His lifeblood.
 
Because we go with Him to the cross, we will also get to go with Him to the Resurrection. There He shares with us all of His glorious victories, which will taste all the sweeter because of this time of faithfulness with Him. So take heart if you find that you are on the cross right now. Find shelter in the cover of His tent, and He will give you treasures that you never imagined that you could find in this place.
ALICIA BRADFORD:
Alicia has been on a journey of transformation since 2008 when she found Jesus in a new way during her marriage crisis. The Lord embraced her and invited her to follow Him in ways and to places she would never have expected. One of these unexpected places, is that she was led to complete a Master’s Degree in Theology at the John Paul II Institute for Studies in Marriage and Family in Washington D.C. On this journey, she learned that her family, no matter how broken and in whatever need of healing, is the greatest gift and the first and most important mission she will ever participate in!

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