‘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.’ — 2 Timothy 4:16
How sad to think of Paul the Apostle, who had preached the gospel to so many, standing alone before his accusers! Persecution was very intense in those days and very likely this was what kept them away. So, Paul went to trial without anyone to speak a word on his behalf.
Not only was Paul alone at his trial, but he had very few friends around during his imprisonment. Demas had forsaken him to go back to the world. Others were in other regions for various reasons. The only person with him was Luke (v.10-11).
All of this combined with the realisation that death was imminent (v.6) would have made most people despair. And yet, Paul was able to be joyful and faithful to the end.
2 Timothy 4 gives us a few reasons he (and we) can be joyful and faithful even when we are (or feel) all alone:
- Jesus is coming back to judge the world and set up His kingdom (v.1).
- The fight for the Lord is a good one – it is worth it (v.7).
- We are not responsible for the course others run; we are responsible simply to run our race (v.7).
- The Lord, the righteous Judge, will reward those who love his appearing with the crown of righteousness (v.8).
- Usually, there are a couple of people we can count on. Even in his abandonment, Paul had Luke there and he wrote to Timothy knowing he would come to him (v.9-10).
- The Lord never abandons us! Even though Paul was all alone, the Lord was there. The Lord strengthened him and delivered him from the mouth of the lion (v.17)!
- The Lord will continue to deliver us from every evil work and protect us to His heavenly kingdom (v.18).
- The grace and forgiveness of Christ enable us to forgive those who abandon us (v.16). Paul was not bitter toward those who did not stand with him. He calls them his brethren (v.21).
What a blessing to know that we have so much to rejoice in! Things may be hard. We may feel all alone. But the Lord is with us. The Lord will sustain us, preserve us, and help us. We can be joyful. We don’t have to get bitter. We can rest in the Lord’s presence and the Lord’s sustaining grace.