In 2 Timothy 4:6-18 Paul’s seems to be in a dire situation. The picture above is said to be the Roman Prison Cell where Paul was held. His life and ministry most certainly is at an end. He knows this imprisonment will eventually end in his execution and death. But this is not defeat to the Apostle, it is victory. Reading verse 6-8: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing”. What a glorious legacy and benediction of his life’s ministry, what an encouragement this letter to Timothy and yes to all of us who love and long for the Lord’s appearing.
And yet the remainder of chapter 4 is a touching list of personal matters that reveal a glimpse of the human frailties of the great Apostle:
• He longs for Timothy to come soon vs. 9 What a strong desire to see his young friend in ministry.
• Demas has abandoned him because of a love for the world: vs.10a A statement of great sadness.
• Still others are away in service: vs. 10b Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. vs.12 And Tychicus to Ephesus.
• Only Luke is with him: vs.11 Imagine the loneliness these two servants of God must have felt.
• Bring Mark with you: vs 12 A man dismissed for quitting ministry is now profitable for ministry. What joy!
• He requests his coat, his books, and parchments: vs. 13 A coat to warm the body and scripture to warm the soul.
• He exposes that Alexander the Silver Smith of his abusive ways and warns Timothy of his misdeeds: vs.14-15
Through all the abandonment, loneliness and abuse Paul’s sense of the Lord’s presence is strength enough for whatever lay ahead: Vs 16-17 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; 2 Timothy 4:16-17 Another version: But … the Lord stayed with me and gave me strength. 2 Timothy 4:17 NIV
THE LORD STOOD WITH ME! What a powerful statement from the Apostle. The Lord stays with us when others forsake us, when loved ones and friends can journey with us no more! In the fall of 2005 my wife was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. She began receiving phone calls and cards from family and friends. Among those was a little note of prayer and encouragement came from Bill Evans, Director of the Board of Retirement in Nashville. A hand written verse was included that read, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you”. Psalm 56:3. Her reaction was appreciation that someone she had never met was praying for her but more than that, was encouraged by this great verse. She would cling to that verse until her last breath on earth.
Perhaps we need a renewed confidence in the reality of the Lord’s presence in our lives. I’m praying that truth over you in your circumstances today. The chorus of the old hymn reads:
“Fear thou not for I’ll be with thee.
I will still thy pilot be.
Never mind the tossing billows
take my hand and trust in me.”