The Burden of Loneliness
When we study the book of 2 Timothy we see how lonely the apostle Paul felt. Paul writes this letter to encourage Timothy but in the same time Paul himself needed encouragement. We can see that in the whole epistle. We can see that in Chapter 1. There Paul says that all those who are in Asia deserted him (2 Timothy 1:15).
15 You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.
In Chapter 2 Paul writes about Hymenaeus and Philetus who diverted from the truth (2 Timothy 2:17-18). They also left him.
17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.
In Chapter 4:9-10 with a pain he shares that Demas deserted him.
9 Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.
Finally, Apostle Paul said that at his first defend nobody came to stand by him (2 Timothy 4:16).
16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.
Everyone deserted Apostle Paul. Some for bad reasons and some even for good reasons. His co-workers took off fulfilling their ministries (2 Timothy 4:9).
9 Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.
So, Paul says he was all alone. In his own words he felted “deserted”. He felted lonely, abandoned from everybody. But then he adds, “May the Lord grand mercy to the house of Onesiphorus.” Why? Because Onesiphorus often refreshed Paul. Paul said that he was not ashamed by his chains. When Onesiphorus came to Rome he looked for Paul earnestly until he found him in the prison (2 Timothy 1:16-18).
16 May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. 17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. 18 May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.
When I read that I thought I want to be an “Onesiphorus”. I want to be a person who encourages and refreshes those who are alone, those who are deserted, those who are feeling lonely.
Today I want to challenge you and challenge all of us: Look for a pastor or a leader who is alone and then go ahead and encourage and refresh these people.
2 Timothy is so much about encouragement. We need to be encouraged and others need to be encouraged by us. Paul encourages Timothy, “Timothy, don’t give up! Fun the flame of that gift that the Lord has given you!” (2 Timothy 1:6).
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
Paul encourages Timothy, “Be strong in the grace that is found only in Christ Jesus!” (2 Timothy 3:14).
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it.
Paul is saying to Timothy, “Preach the gospel, fulfill the ministry of evangelist.” (2 Timothy 4:5).
5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
At the same time Paul himself needs an encouragement. So, let us take this example and find encouragement for our lives and at the same time look for others who need to be encouraged.
When you think about the next generation, think about the Book of 2 Timothy. It is easy to simply go ahead and give tools and methods to people in ministry, but you don’t want to do only that. If we want to preach the word of God with the heart of God and teach next generation of preachers to do the same, we need to encourage them just like Paul encouraged Timothy. If you want to express the heart of God to the next generation this is how the heart of God looks like.
Many leaders today are like Timothy. They are God’s people, they have a calling on their lives, but they feel overwhelmed by circumstances in their lives and the battles they fight. Encouragement, training, inspiration and exhortation are much needed on the level of leadership. The ministers’ families also need to be ministered to in order for them to get out and do the Lord’s work with new power, strength and joy. Through our ministry we reach the families of God’s servants who in turn will have new passion, zeal and power to reach the lost.