One of the greatest mistakes we can make is being convinced we are alone as we endure life’s trials and tribulations. Believing no one else understands our struggle binds us to a crippling defeat, as it stops us from being transparent and vulnerable to those God sent to help carry us into victory. Ashamed of our situations, we build walls around our hearts, declining others access. Isolation rises and our feelings of anger, resentment, brokenness and sorrow take root in our hearts; and as we begin to separate ourselves from those around us, we answer the question, “who could understand this level of hurt, this amount of pain, this amount of abandonment,” with an answer which only drives us farther away, an answer which says, “no one.” Yet even in the moments when we feel most alone, the moments when we feel like no one could possibly understand, we have strength in the assurance that, “we do not have a High Priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet He did not sin.”; in the moments we are convinced we are alone in our struggle, God’s word reminds us, Jesus, our protector and victory, not only faced every trial, tribulation and temptation we face, but walked away sinless (Hebrews 4:15). In this week’s message entitled, Navigate Betrayal, Pastor Tracy discusses how Satan uses betrayal as a way to bind us in isolation, while releasing us from our bondage as she unravels how we, through the power of God, can move past our offenses.
Before we can begin navigating the storms of betrayal, we must first recognize the source of all betrayal. Betrayal is so destructive because its biggest impact is made when we feel betrayed by those closest to us and/or are betrayed in the places where we feel safest. Betrayal’s sting resides in the intimacy of our relationships and security. It is when we are abandoned by our family, friends, spouses, and in our workplaces, churches and homes do we feel most deserted and feel the largest waves of anger, bitterness and resentment crash over our perception of those we once loved. In our moments of betrayal, we tend to look at our accusers as our enemy, questioning angrily, “how could they?” The offense becomes personal and we begin rejecting those around us. Yet regardless of how much we want to hate and despise those who took advantage of our trust, regardless of how much we don’t believe they deserve our love, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” (Ephesians 6:12). Our enemy is not those who betray us. Our enemy is the one who first betrayed. Our enemy is Satan. Just as Satan attempted to take over God’s throne in heaven, he strives to steal and destroy the only thing he can – our lives. He knows if he can make us feel isolated and disconnect from those around us, we’ll become powerless, as our growth is contingent with our relationships with others. It is our relationships which nurture our destiny and purpose. Knowing this, the devil influences those closest to us, little by little, planting seed after seed, in order convince them to do the slightest thing which will make us feel abandoned, mistreated and betrayed.
Understanding our enemy is Satan and not the people who hurt us, enables us to shift our focus and place our anger and hate towards the proper culprit. It allows us to position ourselves in a place where we are able to receive God’s grace, adopt a heart willing to bless and pray for those who persecute us, and forgive those who hurt us. Betrayal stings. It most often leaves deep scars; and while God so desperately wants to heal us from our pain, the devil attempts to keep us in bondage by convincing us moving past the betrayal minimizes the office and actions of others. But as we pursue healing, God gives us the enabling power of the Holy Spirit – an enabling power which allows us to remember what happened, recognize the hurt, all while moving past it in love towards one another. Receiving God’s grace increases our capacity to walk in love and extend the same mercy and forgiveness we’ve received from God. It carries us past our feelings, strengthening us to walk in obedience. As we bless and pray for others, we take a stance of spiritual warfare and beak the shackles off those who betrayed us. Our hearts become tender towards those we once thought were our enemies, and we begin to see them as God does, fully loved and completely forgiven. In forgiving those who once offended us, not only do we free ourselves from bitterness and resentment, enter into a lifestyle which releases the glory and grace of God upon the lives of those who need it.
- What moment of betrayal have you faced that had or continues to have a large impact on your life? How did it and/or does it affect your relationships?
- How does building walls between you and others stop you from walking in the fullness of your purpose and destiny?
- When you feel betrayed and/or offended, do you tend to rely on your own strength to overcome the pain or do you chase after God’s power? Why is it important for us to receive God’s enabling power of grace as we seek after our healing?
- What things make it difficult for you to pray for and bless those who persecute you?
- How can you shift your perspective from seeing people as your enemies to seeing Satan as your enemy?
- How can you take a stance of forgiveness when your feelings don’t want to?
- Do you see prayer, forgiveness and blessing as spiritual warfare? How can embracing the fight of faith increase your capacity to seek peace and breakthrough for the ones who hurt you?
Thank God for never leaving your nor forsaking you. Praise Jesus for walking away from every trial and temptation, sinless before the Father. Thank God for being so gracious and merciful that He sent His Son to endure every one of our struggles, so He may sympathize with you. Ask God to pour out a fresh measure of grace upon your mind, will and emotions. Pray that He would give you the strength and courage to pray for and bless those who have persecuted you. Ask God to open your eyes to a greater understanding of His forgiveness over your life. Thank God for equipping you to enter into spiritual warfare by presenting you with the full armor of God.
Remind your group that choices lead and feelings follow. Encourage your group members that even if they don’t see an immediate manifestation of God’s peace in their situations, the prayers of a righteous man avail much, and their prayers are shifting things in the spiritual realm (James 5:16). As your group members discuss people who betrayed them, help your group to find the treasure in those they may have a hard time forgiving. Encourage your group that even while they were sinners, God forgave them, as He understand they did not know what they were doing (Luke 23:24).