Have You ever Been Lonely or Felt Abandoned…Dan Doyle
“May the Lord rescue us from every evil threat and bring us safe to his heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18). Have you ever been lonely, or worse, felt abandoned by all those whom you counted as friends and allies? This latter kind of loneliness is profoundly painful. It feels like the world has fallen away from you. You are truly alone, with no support from anyone. This is how Paul was feeling when he wrote this letter to Timothy. But we also see the depths of Paul’s faith here. It is in this faith that he knows he can go on with his mission to spread the Gospel.
Paul has been abandoned by a former colleague, others he has sent to continue the mission to various other communities. He has been put on trial, been attacked by Alexander the coppersmith, which has caused him much harm, and warns Timothy to beware of this person because he has shown both strength and tenacity against Paul’s and the other’s preaching. Some may remember a time when they went through something like what Paul is describing here, when they were being powerfully, even unjustly attacked by someone, or some group, and a profound sense of loneliness threatened to overwhelm them. Without a belief in a loving God whose faithfulness is true and whose mercy is so generously given, how can we survive such loneliness? But with that faith in God, we can not only survive, we can thrive in and through such times.
Paul’s example of faith here is instructive and encouraging to us all. Though he has had to endure these things, and though he is truly experiencing the weight of them, he knows that God will rescue and defend him. His confidence in God gives him the security of knowing that the Lord will “rescue him from every evil threat and bring him safely to his heavenly kingdom.” Paul knows, in faith, that nothing this world can threaten us with, can destroy us, for God is on the side of those who believe in him, those whose belief is manifested in the way that they live their lives. He knows that God is his rescuer, that God’s desire is to bring him to his heavenly kingdom is true. In this faith he can ultimately say, “To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (verse 18)
It is in this faith that Paul finds the courage and the ever-deepening desire to continue the mission of bringing the Good News to the Gentiles. This is the same mission that we are all called to as Christians. We are called on to evangelize, to bring the Good News to the world and the times that we live in now. We are to do this with not just words, but with the way we practice what we preach. And these times are challenging indeed. Religion and those who believe are under attack regularly. We live in a time of growing cynicism and rejection of religion. Our times are looking more like apostolic times every day. We need to have a faith like Paul’s to be able to continue the mission given to us by Jesus when he said, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). We must not fear loneliness, for God is always with us. He is our strength, our advocate, and our guide through all the difficulties we may encounter. To him be the glory. Amen.
Lord, We pray that you strengthen our faith and encourage us in this noble task you have called us to. When we feel lonely, make us aware of your presence, so that we may face our accusers with patient endurance and forgiving love. We pray, as always, in the power of the name of Jesus. Amen!
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