In the face of hurt and betrayal, may we find the strength to channel our emotions not into vengeance but into understanding and love, remembering that true healing comes when we choose grace over bitterness.
Psalm 109 — Dealing with Betrayal — Aneel Aranha
My God, whom I praise,
do not remain silent,
for people who are wicked and deceitful
have opened their mouths against me;
they have spoken against me with lying tongues.
With words of hatred they surround me;
they attack me without cause.
In return for my friendship they accuse me,
but I am a man of prayer.
They repay me evil for good,
and hatred for my friendship.
Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
and may his prayers condemn him.
May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.
May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.
May his children be wandering beggars;
may they be driven from their ruined homes.
May a creditor seize all he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
May no one extend kindness to him
or take pity on his fatherless children.
May his descendants be cut off,
their names blotted out from the next generation.
May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD;
may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.
May their sins always remain before the LORD,
that he may blot out their name from the earth.
For he never thought of doing a kindness,
but hounded to death the poor
and the needy and the brokenhearted.
He loved to pronounce a curse—
may it come back on him.
He found no pleasure in blessing—
may it be far from him.
He wore cursing as his garment;
it entered into his body like water,
into his bones like oil.
May it be like a cloak wrapped about him,
like a belt tied forever around him.
May this be the LORD’s payment to my accusers,
to those who speak evil of me.
But you, Sovereign LORD,
help me for your name’s sake;
out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.
For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is wounded within me.
I fade away like an evening shadow;
I am shaken off like a locust.
My knees give way from fasting;
my body is thin and gaunt.
I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
when they see me, they shake their heads.
Help me, LORD my God;
save me according to your unfailing love.
Let them know that it is your hand,
that you, LORD, have done it.
While they curse, may you bless;
may those who attack me be put to shame,
but may your servant rejoice.
May my accusers be clothed with disgrace
and wrapped in shame as in a cloak.
With my mouth I will greatly extol the LORD;
in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him.
For he stands at the right hand of the needy,
to save their lives from those who would condemn them.
David is at his imprecatory best in this psalm, invoking judgment, calamity, and curses upon his enemies. The raw emotion and the intense language can be jarring, especially when compared with other psalms filled with praise or lament.
However, don't his words resonate with us? At one point David cries, “They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship” (Psalm 109:5). Don't we relate to the feelings of hurt and desire for justice? Who hasn't felt wronged or betrayed at some point in their life? The psalmist's words touch us because they're authentic; they capture the depth of human pain.
Jesus, however, invites us to a higher path. "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," he says (Matthew 5:44). He's not asking us to suppress or deny our feelings but transform them. He's asking us to choose love over vengeance, grace over retribution.
Following Jesus' advice is not about dismissing genuine feelings of hurt. Instead, it's about recognizing those feelings and then making a conscious choice to respond in a way that aligns with love and grace.
How can we do this? After all, choosing love and grace over vengeance goes against our natural instincts. One way is by seeing our persecutors not as faceless adversaries but as fellow human beings, each with their own stories, struggles, and pains. When we begin to humanize those who hurt us, we can start to understand that their actions often stem from their own wounds and insecurities. This doesn't excuse their behavior but offers a context that can pave the way for empathy.
Another way is realizing that love and grace facilitate our own healing and growth. Holding onto anger, resentment, and desires for vengeance can corrode our souls. They can trap us in cycles of negativity and bitterness. By choosing to respond with love, we free ourselves from these chains. We open ourselves to peace, joy, and the possibility of reconciliation. It's a proactive choice, one that empowers us and aligns us more closely with the teachings of Jesus. In doing so, we not only extend grace to others but also experience it more deeply in our own lives.
So, let us allow ourselves the freedom to verbalize our emotions as David did, but let us externalize them through love and grace as Jesus did.
God bless you.