Where is God when you feel rejected or betrayed by your friends? Does He even care? Actually, Jesus experienced that exact thing - betrayal by a very close friend. Find out more of how God not only cares, but truly understands.
(This story was submitted by a military brat describing her experience as a sophomore in college outside of Philadelphia. It conveys themes of vulnerability and broken trust. The content is a little rough, but betrayal is never a “dirt free” topic.) I once had a best friend, Hailey. She and I began to hang out with 3 guys - Cal, Matt, and Geoffrey. We spent all of our free time together as just a group of 5 friends. Cal had a girlfriend but she never hung out with us. When summer came around after a whole school year of hanging out every day and night, we decided to rent a hotel room for a weekend in July. We were supposed to be going downtown during the days and then just relaxing and drinking some at night. My best friend, Hailey, was doing most of the planning with Cal, and that is how she swore the weekend would go. What ended up happening was that no one else had any intentions of leaving the hotel room or even doing anything other than drink tons of alcohol and play strip poker. Hailey and Cal were all over each other, and I had both Matt and Geoffrey continually touching me and coming on to me. Then at night, while Hailey and I were sharing a bed, Cal got in and he and Hailey proceeded to have sex in the bed with me right next to her, even though she knew I was still awake. The entire weekend just broke my heart, and I felt so surprised, vulnerable, and deceived. Everything I thought I knew about these people was inaccurate. Hailey lied about her intentions for Cal (who had a girlfriend he was cheating on) and the whole weekend, while Matt and Geoffrey laughed off my requests to be left alone and told me to just relax and have a good time. I tried to get someone to just take me home but no one wanted to sober up enough to drive. I walked away from that weekend and was never friends with those people ever again. It wasn't easy and they definitely did a good job making the next school year a living hell for me, but at least I didn't have friends like that anymore.
It all happened the same day! Amazingly, the story you are about to read from the Bible is about a huge betrayal and the pain of rejection all in one single night. And it happened to Jesus! If you have ever wondered if he could possibly understand what you’re going through when it happens to you, I think you’ll have no doubts when you finish reading. For a quick background on the key characters, Judas and Peter had walked with Jesus for three years as part of his inner circle (the disciples – the original gang). That’s as long as most of you have lived in any one location, so you know almost exactly how long that was. Many of you would love to have a friend for the entire three years! And Jesus had done a lot of life with these guys and 10 more just like them! Now read about that incredibly painful night right after they had shared dinner together from Luke 22 (with a few verses omitted for length).
Dear Jesus, maybe for the first time, I know you understand when I feel the pain of being rejected or betrayed by a friend. It really hurts, but you know that because it happened to you. Wow, thanks for living exactly where I live and going through the same things. Help me get through this without hating or hurting someone. Teach me to love like you loved in spite of how I am treated. Amen.
Take a look at the locations of some of the story from Luke 22.
Zoom in on the red and orange balloons and look closely at the city of Jerusalem to see where Jesus had the last supper and the garden where Judas offered the betrayer’s kiss!
The word betray and the word traitor come from the same root word meaning “to hand over.” That would mean that betrayal in friendship is to be a traitor to that trust.
Abandoned - by Hans O. Biehl
I had this friend named Jimmy who I had known for nearly 2 years. We had been through a few things together -- gotten in trouble at school, taken a road trip, not to mention the many weekend nights just hanging around. He and I began as part of a group, but people moved away or found new friends until Jimmy and I were the only ones still getting together. A few months later I had to move to look for work. Jimmy and I kept in touch, and, within a few months, I sent him an email that I was heading his way, and we should hang out. I didn't get a response to that email, but I didn't worry since I would be back in town in a couple weeks. Well, once I got back I started texting him and leaving messages on Facebook about meeting up. Finally I got a one-sentence reply. "Not gonna happen, sorry." That was it. “Did I make him angry?” “Should I have been better at keeping in touch?” “Should I not have bothered him as much?” “Was he really sorry, like it's out of his control?” “Maybe he got a new girlfriend, and she is super jealous?” All of these questions and more started bouncing around in my head. I just can't understand this! How could he not give me an explanation? How could we be totally fine one second and the next not be friends anymore? FOR NO REASON!! What did I do? What is wrong with me? I found that the pain of losing a friend is even more bitter if you do not understand why it happened. I am learning to give that pain to God and not let the unknown answers affect what I think of myself. It’s a huge challenge. It is one that cannot be done alone. It requires the grace and love of God. (see Who’s Your Daddy for discussions on identity and self-image)
The book titled Peace Child by Don Richardson is an amazing story of an isolated culture that had become so enthralled with treachery that when they heard the story of Jesus, they thought the hero was Judas, the betrayer. They had developed a phrase in their cannibalistic culture that they called, “fattening up with friendship.” Any man in the tribe who could become friends with a man from another tribe and spend weeks and months developing a friendship, and then one day betray him was considered a master deceiver of the tribe and given full hero status! The book takes some detail to describe the gory event of one such man from another tribe who eventually accepted an invitation to come to visit his ‘friend’ in the other tribe. Once there, the men of the village surrounded him, hacked him to pieces, and the women cooked him. They all had a wonderful dinner and praised the “hero” who had done such a fine job of treachery and betrayal. Eventually, many of them came to understand the story of Jesus’ sacrifice as God’s son. The missionary had discovered one deeper truth than that of betrayal, and that was the idea of the “peace child.” In order to secure peace and truth between tribes, the leader of one tribe would give his child to the other tribe to raise as their own. This would ensure that they would never attack that tribe as long as the peace child lived. When the story of Jesus was couched in this deeper tribal value – God gave us his Peace Child (Jesus) to make peace between us and him – then many of the tribe understood the horrible treachery of Judas for what it was! So, many of them became followers of God’s Peace Child! (Read the book for yourself to see how all of this transpires in a jungle community in the 1960s).
Proverbs 6:16-19 – warnings against actions of betrayal and rejection
Proverbs 16:28 – gossip as a cause of broken relationships
Job 19:19 & Job 6:15 – descriptions of how it feels
Lamentations 1:2 – the city of Jerusalem personified
What’s the most glaring example of betrayal or rejection that you know? Summarize it on the ReZ Life Facebook group.