The apostle Paul is one of my favorite people in the Bible. Once I see Jesus and Joseph and Elijah in heaven, I really want to hang out with Paul. The revelation he brought forth in his letters has been my lifeline. His life has been such an inspiration to me. I can’t read II Timothy without getting emotional. They are his last words to his son in the faith before he is going to be martyred. And there are some powerful revelations in that book. This verse always gets to me:
The apostle Paul is one of my favorite people in the Bible. Once I see Jesus and Joseph and Elijah in heaven, I really want to hang out with Paul. The revelation he brought forth in his letters has been my lifeline. His life has been such an inspiration to me.
I can’t read II Timothy without getting emotional. They are his last words to his son in the faith before he is going to be martyred. And there are some powerful revelations in that book.
This verse always gets to me:
At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. (II Timothy 4:16)
How sad is that? Paul was facing a hard time, and no one came to his defense. Everyone deserted him.
This is the apostle Paul we’re talking about here. He established countless churches. Went on several missionary journeys with his buddies Barnabas and Silas and Mark. Preached to thousands and thousands. Mentored Timothy and Titus and others.
Yet no one came to his defense. No one came to support him. He was all alone. How lonely that must have felt.
Lonely means without companions or solitary. Some of the synonyms are pretty interesting too: isolated, alone, lonesome, abandoned, unloved, unwanted, outcast.
Has that ever described you? Sure it has. It’s definitely described me at one time or another.
Yet Paul wasn’t all alone.
But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. (II Timothy 4:17)
But the Lord stood at my side.
I have had times in my life that I’ve felt so lonely. Unwanted. An outcast. But this picture of the apostle Paul has always helped me come back to center. Come back to Him.
I can handle walking through lonely times, but it’s especially hard for me to watch my kids walk through them.
I know not to make lonely my address. I know it’s an emotion and I don’t have to let it lead me. I know how to press in and rely on Him for me and I know what it is to have Him satisfy and fill my heart so full that it doesn’t matter how alone I feel. I know I’m never alone.
But with my kids….it’s been a little unnerving to watch them wade through these waters. Spending hours on my knees for them. Praying that God makes Himself real to them and teaches them how to let Him satisfy them.
My daughter had a girl she considered to be her best friend decide she doesn’t like to hang out with her anymore. She even told her that to her face and then she started ignoring her at school.
It was hard to watch her come home sad and lonely, knowing I can’t fix it. To be honest, I even considered for a few minutes homeschooling her to pull her out of that hurtful situation. But running away is never the answer.
I can encourage her and hug her and love her. I can point her in the right direction. And I have to trust God to do the rest.
And it’s been so awesome to watch God be God in my kids’ lives, just like He is in mine. To watch her turn to the Word for comfort and direction. To watch her pray for this girl and ask God for new friends. To look around to see who else might be lonely and reach out to them.
We all go through lonely times…lonely seasons. It’s what we do when we’re there that makes the difference between depression and joy.
It’s easy to wallow in it. It’s easy to make lonely your address and just hunker down and live there.
It takes more effort, however, to just pass on through lonely. It takes a little more work to do what Paul did.
He prayed. “May it not be held against them.”
And he turned to God who stood by his side and gave him strength.
And he reached out to his son in the faith, Timothy, with words of wisdom and love and encouragement.
Everyone feels lonely at one time or another, but don’t make lonely your address. Acknowledge it. Pray. Turn to God. And reach out. You’ll be surprised how quickly lonely is replaced by joy and contentment.