The Word

2 Timothy 4:16-18 NIV

16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17 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. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Message

Every time I read Paul’s letters, I am intrigued by his style of writing. He writes from the heart. Here he was, writing to his protégée Timothy, from a prison cell. He was old and still so concerned about the church and all the details of raising people of faith, character and love for one another. But in all of it, he wrote about his first defense which he went through alone. He just threw that in because he needed to pour out his heart about that experience.

The Acts of Apostles does not really give an account of Paul’s appearance before Caesar but from this letter and history books we know that He actually did appear before Nero. It must have been a terrible time for Paul. His concern was to preach the gospel, but he was faced with the political and religious opposition from his people, the Jews. I have been reading a lot of history and there were all kinds of gimmicks being played by the powers that be, both of the Jews and the Romans. Paul was torn between the two.

He felt very alone. He actually says that in his first defense, no one was with him. In his words, ‘everyone deserted me’. Another version says, ‘no one stood by me’ or ‘no one acted in my defense’ or ‘no one stood with me, but all forsook me’. Alone indeed.

Let us take another look at his being all alone. It also happened to be the highest point in his ministry- the point at which he defends the gospel before Roman leadership. He had preached the gospel in so many places- both to the Jews and Gentiles, but the Holy Spirit had told
him he would preach before Caesar-the powers that be among the Gentiles of his day. This was his ‘moment’. The point at which you could say he fulfilled his ministry. In fact, some scholars believe, the ruling from Nero was in his favor, giving the Church autonomy from Judaism. Yet he was all alone. You would have expected a large audience to witness his moment of glory, but who was there, only the One who called him. In his words, ‘But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength’.

That is the way it works. When Jesus went to the cross, He was also alone. Meanwhile it was the highpoint of His ministry. He felt forsaken and even cried out to His Father, ‘……why have You forsaken me?’. But was He really forsaken? Who made sure that He only stayed three days in hell? Who made sure He was raised from the dead? The same Person who seemed like He had forsaken Him.

Are you feeling alone right now? That means you are in the middle of some Godly purpose for your life. Don’t focus on how deadly the place you are in is-The lion’s den, the cross, failing health, business or career, children running wild, …whatever. You would rather you
had people beside you to help you through, but you have an audience of one-God Himself. It is not given to anyone to be at your side at this time, because they cannot add any value to your process. They cannot help you at this time. They would probably be overwhelmed by what is happening to you. Please find strength, like Paul did, in knowing that you have the One you need and no one else. Why does He prefer to do it like this? So that all the glory goes to Him, and no one else, at the end of the day.

The most important thing about being alone with God is that, like Paul says, ‘The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom’. That is the crux of the matter. He will always deliver us and bring us to the place of glory, while
fulfilling purpose in our lives.. That’s just who He is. He cannot help Himself. Always remember that. Ck