2 Timothy 4:6-18 (NIV)
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
9 Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.
14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.
16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
This passage from the book of 2 Timothy captures a painful time in the life of Paul the apostle. As he sat in a prison cell, he knew that death was imminent. He had devoted the last years of his life to teaching, training, and winning souls for Christ, but he now stood alone, unsupported during his trial and time in jail. The loneliness must have seemed overwhelming to him.
Paul felt abandoned, yet he didn’t blame anyone or pity himself. Instead, he met the suffering with courage. I know that if I was in that same position, it would be very hard for me not to want to blame those, who I thought were my friends, for not supporting me. I would almost certainly be feeling some self-pity. How about you? How would you feel if you were in that situation? The point is that Paul didn’t feel those things. What motivated him to stand with strength during this trying time?
For Paul, an awareness of Christ’s presence gave him comfort and motivated him to persevere. Having a copy of Scripture in his cell was no doubt one way for him to find encouragement. We know this from 2 Timothy 4:13. Paul knew that God was right there with him in the current moment that he was in, but he also recalled earlier times when the Lord had intervened on his behalf.
An example of this occurred years before, when Paul had a vision from God telling him not to fear during a storm on the sea. Even though the ship he was on ran aground, all the men on that ship survived. Here is the account of that tale:
Acts 27:22-24 (NIV)
22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’
For those of us who know Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, strength is readily available to us in His intimate presence. Our heavenly Father promises that he will never abandon His children, even when everyone else has.
Have your circumstances left you feeling lonely? When you are feeling this way, try to remember times when God was evident to you- when He clearly revealed His hand in your life. Also, take the time to read His Word (the Bible) so that the truth of His presence can comfort and encourage you. As a believer, you are truly never alone.