Serving God and doing what is right can sometimes be a lonely place to be.Today, I was thinking back to the friends that I have had in the past and wondering why those relationships have seemingly fallen away. Loneliness is a silent killer that can wreck our spiritual walk with the Lord. Lately, as I have been working through 2 Timothy in my devotions, I have been forced to think about this topic even more.
The book of 2 Timothy is probably one of Paul latest and most personal books written to his son in the faith, Timothy. Most likely, Paul is sitting in prison for the last time and it doesn't look good. Paul is virtually abandoned by everyone around him: all they which are in Asia be turned away from me (1:15). This included two specific men Phygellus and Hermogenes who Paul must not have expected would have turned on him.
In the final chapter of the book, Paul recounts a list of people who have left him. Some like Demas had evil motives in leaving, but I find it hard to believe that Titus left on bad terms. The point isn't here that Paul was abandoned, but that he was alone. In Vs 16, Paul states that when he gave his first defense, no one stood with him.
How Paul deals with discouragement
He Remembers Those Close to Him
As he writes to Timothy requesting him to bring his coat (winter was coming) and parchments, he begins to think about how his life might be over soon and he spends the first few verses of chapter one remembering.
Remembering can be a good thing when it points us to God, but sometimes remembering can push us further into despair. The key here is to ask yourself, "what are you remembering?" Paul remembered three things in verses 3-5:
Paul remembered to pray for Timothy vs 3
Paul remembered Timothy tears- It is debatable why Timothy was crying? Some believe it was the tears he shed when he had to say goodbye to Paul. Could it also have been tears over Paul's imprisonment or even something more human than that: tears over the suffering he might have to face.
Paul remembered Timothy's faith
Paul knows remembering what is right, good and holy can help us. Loneliness is a battle of the mind and we only fall pray to it when we are thinking discouraging thoughts about being alone. So what is the solution? Remember what God has done and those God has placed in your life. Paul knew this would be important as Timothy might face similar trials. In Vs 6, Paul challenges Timothy to remember. I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God. Paul is reminding him of what God has done in his life in calling Timothy to the ministry and challenges him to fan the flame of passion for God's work.
He Remembers Those who have Done Good to Him
Paul in this text doesn't just remember Timothy. He remembers Onesiphorus. According to vs 16, Onesiphorus often times refreshed Paul. I have recently been doing working through the book of acts and came upon this phrase times of refreshing and the idea behind the word is "to cool or dry out a wound." I seems that Onesiphorus was seeking to aid and take care of Paul physically as well as spiritually.
Onesiphorus didn't just happen to be in Paul's circle of travelers. He wasn't someone who was already at hand. In vs 17, we see that he actually sought out Paul. He went out of his way to seek and help Paul in his afflictions. The text says he sought very diligently. He was determined to find Paul. But this was not just a one time event. Onesiphorus had a habit of ministering to Paul even when they were both in Ephesus.
He Remembers the Lord
2 Timothy 1:12 is a well known verse that has been enshrined in the words of Daniel Whittle's famous Hymn I Know Whom I have Believed. Paul didn't just remind himself of his friends and those who have helped him along the way. Paul was confident that his Lord had not abandoned Him. In facing afflictions and death and solitude, Paul can say, "I am not ashamed." Paul could fight the good fight and finish his course well, but why?
The second half of the verse starts with the word for which tells us the basis or reason why he is not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Paul was convinced that God was powerful: he is able. God had not forsaken Paul. No matter what the world would do to Paul, God's power was not diminished. He was also convinced that the lord would guard what he had committed unto Him. There is debate about what Paul had committed unto him. Was it the ministry that Paul had been working or his salvation? Both can be proven from the context.
He Remembers His Future
Either one or both together, God was able to keep it until that day. Paul is here remembering his hope of a future resurrection. That day most likely refers back to vs 10: our hope of life and immortality. Even before he was saved, Paul was a firm believer in the resurrection. But this hope of future resurrection is proven according to vs 10 by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ: his bodily resurrection from the dead. This appearing happened at the time the Christ abolished death and brought life.
We have hope in that day we will not see or face spiritual death and that hope is proven by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. I would love to jump over to 1 Corinthians 15 and deal with that text there, but it is not the focus of this article. I challenge you to read it and spend some time meditating on the hope our future resurrection brings.