They were the darkest days of His life, and He was alone. The men He had spent the last three years of His life with, abandoned Him when trouble arrived.
Heavily armed guards, sent by the chief priest and scribes, arrested Jesus after He prayed all night, preparing for the upcoming universal battle between life and death. His disciples saw Him walk on water; feed thousands of men, women, and children; heal the sick; and give sight to the blind. They even saw Him raise the dead. Yet, they deserted Him.
Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’” Mark 14:27 (ESV)
Have you ever been in a difficult or dark time when you felt all alone? Did it feel as though everyone you knew had forsaken you? Maybe it was a crisis in your family or marriage and your friends didn’t know how to handle it. A difference of beliefs or conviction can drive a wedge between people and leave us feeling heartbroken and isolated.
Years ago, my husband and I shared a friendship with four other couples. We attended the same church, dined at one another’s homes, shared life, and worshipped and studied God’s Word together. I loved these people as though they were my flesh and blood.
I was preparing to teach a Bible study I had written for our class. One day during prayer, the Lord warned my husband the Bible study would come under attack. We prayed and asked our gang to pray for the study, and us as well. Halfway into the study, a division within our ensemble of friends developed. The split was not because of the Bible study, but resulted from one couple walking away from God. No one knew what to do, so they ignored it. As a result, it divided us. Because I wanted to fix it, I reached out to my pastor for advice — my friends viewed me as a betrayer.
These once close friends now treated my husband and me as if we no longer existed. It was horrible. Not only had a great friend walked away from the church and God, but our other brothers and sisters ostracized us for seeking help outside our group.
I was miserable while I continued teaching my Bible study without them. My family sat alone during Sunday services while the remaining three couples of our once tight-knit group filled a separate row.
God did not leave me; He moved in closer. I experienced a more intimate relationship with Him than I had ever known. God healed my hurt and my wounds as I forgave those friends. We no longer see each other, but I hold nothing against them and have told them as much.
Jesus forgave His disciples, too. He restored them and used them mightily in the days that followed. He never left them nor forsook them.
Matthew 6:14 reminds us we all have debts to pay. If we forgive those who have wronged us, the Father will forgive us. If we do not forgive others, the Father will not forgive us of our sin.
Will you forgive those who have left or betrayed you? God knows your pain and can heal it. He will free you from it. Jesus came to mend the brokenhearted.
Copyright © 2019 Stephanie Pavlantos, used with permission.
Stephanie Pavlantos is passionate about getting people into God’s Word. She has taught Bible studies for 15 years and has spoken at ladies’ retreats. Her first book was a Bible study on the book of Ephesians and spiritual warfare called, The Few, the Humble, the Church. She is working on a Bible study called Yeshua, God’s Son, Our Treasure: A Quest through the Book of Hebrews, which won an award at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. She also writes devotionals for Refresh Bible Study Magazine. You can visit her blog at www.stephaniepavlantos.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/stephaniepavlantos.