Read 2 Timothy 4:9-22
Paul was lonely. I imagine prison inside a dungeon will do that to a man. Oh, and also, his friends had abandoned him.
“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me” (v16).
Nobody showed up for his trial. No one stood with him in front of his accusers. Only God.
“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength . . .” (v17).
Indeed, Paul knew the deep sides of loneliness. Still, he wrote to Timothy about his concern for those who had left him. Even from the depths of his despair-shaped dungeon, Paul prayed God’s mercy on them.
“May it not be held against them” (v16).
You see, Paul understood weakness. He was a man himself. He knew the propensity to curl up in a ball and look only for one’s self-protection. So he didn’t blame those who had left him alone. In fact, he forgave them.
I have to wonder if he himself dealt with that temptation to only look to his own interests. I imagine he did, especially after so many of his close friends deserted him. Especially as he lay on that cold dungeon floor. He could have easily given in to that I-will-think-only-about-myself temptation and left Timothy, and us, feeling nothing but bad for him and his situation.
But instead, Paul gave his spiritual son some instructions. He offered some laser-focused faith to sum up his letter on standing strong. Paul demonstrated focus on the only one whose Word is always true by practicing that focus himself. Even from the dungeon.
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom” (v18).
Paul knew the hope of the One who would never, ever, leave him alone. And he knew that His presence, His strength, was absolutely enough to get him through this end-of-life, deep-in-the-dungeon-dark time.
So he praised God anyway.
“To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (v18).
I wonder how we might take such an act of faith-focus to heart. How might we remain steadily standing, strong and firm, in the hope we know by the Word of God?
These letters to Timothy are letters to us as well. May we live accordingly. Biblically-grounded. Christ-centered. Able to resist false teaching and false hope. May you and I always stay focused on the real hope and spread the Word, just as Timothy was called to do.