(Late in the 90’s, in one of my little visions – a stylized type that always ends with a pithy angelic comment – I was told, “Betrayal comes from one you love and trust. Begin to offer reparation for him now.” It was striking to me I was not told to defend myself against it, but to pray for the one from whom it would come.
Mother Ellen Neufeld is an Anglican Priest, known on these comment boards as EllenChris. She and her husband, Fr. Mike Neufeld are assigned to St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Scotia, New York. They were my hosts when I visited the Albany area last summer. She is a deep and profound student of Christian history. When she submitted this article to me about the devil using betrayal – and a sense of betrayal – to spread despair in this year, it struck a chord with me.-CJ)
By Mother Ellen Neufeld
All of the people I have met at this weblog – diverse as we are – have a few things in common. We all believe in the one true living God, and we are all in relationship with Jesus Christ whom Christians know to be savior and Lord. I would also say that just about all of us have great love and gratitude for Our Lady, St. Mary, the Blessed Virgin Mother of God for Her gracious help in our lives. The other factor that we seem to have in common is the struggle each one of us is working through, by God’s Grace, in this already very difficult time.
A little over a year ago Charlie had a powerful and frightening vision of a sort of spiritual exploding volcano which was spewing out demons like lava and sparks from an eruption. Charlie posted this statement on January 1 and again on December 27 of 2015: “I have been deeply concerned with the visitation I briefly referenced from the early morning hours of December 20 . In part of it I saw a great multitude of demons, spewing up as if from a great fountain and spreading across the whole earth. Their primary target in this year, knowing their time is short, are those who are most overtly pious and faithful. If they can cause despair here, they can destroy many. Their primary method of causing despair is to reveal to the most overtly pious that things are not as they thought they were. Think here of the crucifixion.” (What came to my mind was particularly Judas’ betrayal of Jesus in the garden).
We have all felt some of the effects of this onslaught. We, ourselves, as well as family members and friends have had difficulties on the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels; some of these have been devastating. We struggle to be faithful while wondering how to get some sense of understanding of all this turmoil.
At the beginning of this past December (2015) I went through a very severe personal struggle. It came on very suddenly and unexpectedly just when things seemed to be going really well on all levels. Over a five day period it seemed to me that God had just dumped me out into a bottomless pit of pain, anger and hopelessness. Finally, I had a conversation with my “Anam Cara” which is the Irish term for a “Soul Friend” or someone who walks with us in mutual support and encouragement on our spiritual journey. The Rev’d Brenda is someone I have learned over the years is totally trustworthy with a deep and wise heart. I complained to her, “I feel so betrayed!” And she was silent for several long minutes.
“That is the word: Betrayal!” she finally said. And we talked this over for quite a while. As fellow clergy in our branch of the Church, she had been hearing this word used very frequently by people who were coming to her for counseling and spiritual advice. She had been trying to help people through situations in which they either felt betrayed by circumstances in their lives or were actually being betrayed by someone close to them. We realized we were seeing this pattern of feelings of betrayal everywhere. Our conversation turned to the way in which this dynamic of betrayal in people’s lives related to our current involvement in The Storm and the possibilities for how this might work out as the full force of The Storm erupts.
Together, we came to an understanding that the great demonic onslaught which Charlie had seen and described to us is characterized primarily by this particular form of attack: the sense of being betrayed. In discussing this with Charlie he expressed his sense that this is indeed a large and central focus of the demonic attack on God’s people that he had seen for this time.
By the end of my conversation with Mthr. Brenda, the attack that had overwhelmed me was broken. I was able to return to repentance and prayer with a new deeper, stronger and clearer sense of God’s unrelenting Love and Providence. I experienced deep healing. Over the next weeks leading into Christmas Brenda and I continued to ponder this insight.
As we discussed The Storm, it became clear that its havoc would not be merely a matter of one falling domino following another, but something much more immediate. Mthr. Brenda said, “This is like a tree in a huge fire. The sap super-heats and suddenly explodes, and sends showers of sparks igniting all the trees around it.”
When a person feels betrayed – whether the betrayal is real or merely felt in that way – that person then experiences a sense of helplessness which quickly turns into anger and a need to lash out. The betrayed person cries out for justice, but then feels entirely justified in wreaking vengeance and hurt on those whom he perceives to have betrayed him. The betrayal may, indeed, be real, or the source of the temptation may be with the betrayer. It may be that someone who has been hurt is tempted to ascribe this hurt to the malice of betrayal on the part of the person who inadvertently caused the hurt without realizing it. Either way, what is most important is the nature of our own response in these kinds of
Dominoes fall one at a time or in small groups. The tree exploding with fiery sparks immediately sets on fire all the trees around it, which then ignite all the trees around them. Such a forest fire will cause a huge conflagration in only a few minutes. The betrayed person justifies his own behavior in hurting others in his desperate need for vindication. He ignites the anger of those he believes have hurt him by hurting them. Like the flaming trees in the fire, these people then spread their own anger and vengeance to those around them until an entire area is filled with hate and revenge. We are seeing just this scenario being played out in so many areas around us. This is the how The Storm explodes. But there is an alternative.
Throughout the Holy Scriptures we see stories about the forgiveness of God. In the Second Book of Samuel, chapter 11 we read of King David’s betrayal of his friend Uriah to his death in order to take his wife, Bathsheba. Through the prophet Nathan God brought David to repentance for his sin; He then forgave and healed David through the death of Bathsheba’s son. Again and again, God used the prophets to call His people to repentance, and He forgave them. A large and central focus of Jesus’ Gospel message is concerned with forgiveness. Perhaps the most succinct statement is found in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 18, verses 21 – 22: “Then Peter came up and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven’” (ESV). Every time we pray the Our Father, the prayer that Jesus gave us, we acknowledge that we are forgiven by God as we forgive others.
Only forgiveness can stop the whirlwind of betrayal and vengeance; only forgiveness can extinguish the flaming tree of rage. Peter was able to trust the forgiveness of God after he denied Jesus at His trial, while Judas rejected the possibility of forgiveness and restoration due to his lack of trust. Only if we truly trust in God’s love and healing can we begin to forgive and let go of our hurt and anger.
Once you see a pattern, it becomes almost impossible to un-see it. Over the past weeks my ears have pricked up to the words, “betrayed” and “betrayal” time and time again. News commentators on the radio and TV use it constantly. Even the tabloid headlines we read on cash register lines scream out that this or that celebrity has been “Betrayed again!” People everywhere are experiencing a sense that social, political and even Church structures are betraying them. This is the demons’ strategy against us.
This situation leads us to a deeper and more important aspect of this issue. In feeling betrayed by people and situations, whatever their real intentions may be, we can be quickly led into anger against God, Himself. The question, “Why did God allow this to happen to me?” can all too easily become an enraged cry, “How can I believe God loves me when He has allowed this?” or even, “God Himself has betrayed me!” This is the subtle snare of the terrible enemy of our souls. He desires to throw us down into his own pit of despair and rage against the One Who created us, redeems us and loves us totally. By creating this sense of betrayal around us and in us, he is trying to draw us away from God’s faithful love by accusing Our Father of being the source of all our pain. I had a bitter taste of this on that first weekend of December. Yet God is faithful: He showed me His purpose in bringing me through this experience, and He healed deep wounds from my past in even deeper and more all-encompassing ways as He brought me out of it.
God’s purposes and plans for us are all and only good, and whatever happens to us occurs in His loving Providence to bring us into the fullness of His Life, Glory and Joy. God will never harm us. If we seem to feel that He is causing us pain,
Mother Ellen Neufeld and me
it is only the pain of pulling out the thorn, cleaning away the infection or cutting away the cancer of our fears. The only way we can grow in this knowledge of God’s total Goodness is by looking past what we think we see into the loving eyes of His tender Mercy. We must ask for His Grace and learn to trust Him in all things. The opposite and antidote to this temptation to turn from God to vengeance is this one great grace and decision: Trust! “Jesus, I trust in You” is the essential choice to allow God’s love to heal us and to extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one.