When we think of Paul, we usually think of his spiritual and emotional strength. We usually remember passages he wrote like… “When I am weak, then I am strong.” But it’s not often that we meditate upon when he struggled. Consider one time when he was alone… abandoned by friends… having been maligned and treated unfairly. This is found in 2 Timothy 4:9-18. To the young preacher (Timothy) Paul wrote…
Do your best to come to me soon. 10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. 12 Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. 16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Even Paul had his detractors… those who not only opposed him but caused great harm to him (Alexander). At the time when he needed support and help most, he was abandoned by everyone including Demas, Crescens, & Titus. In the midst of hardship that came into his life BECAUSE he was honoring and serving God, what did Paul request? Four things…
A personal visit from Timothy. Never underestimate the abililty of being an encourager for another person. Never hesitate to ask a person to come by your side to encourage you when you need it!
A cloak. It may be that the time of year had come that Paul needed clothes to protect him from the elements, possibly to keep him warm. When we are struggling basic physical needs are important. Never overlook how a simple act of bringing something to someone can encourage them. Never hesitate to ask for a basic need in your time of need.
Books. We don’t know what books these were. They could have been some kind of writings that refreshed Paul about Scripture. What we do know is that somehow, someway, these books were vital to strengthen Paul in his time of need. We should not neglect how the writings of other Christians to bless us throughout our life. I have four or five books that I’ve read over the years that are my favorites because of their wisdom and encouragement. I hope you have favorite Christian books that you read often.
Parchments (Scripture). Note Paul wrote, “Above all, the parchments.” More important to Paul than anything else… a person, clothes, or books… was Scripture. The souce of encouragement for every Christian is God’s Word. It is more important than people, physical needs, or anything else. Scripture is our bread… our water… our oxygen… it is our life’s blood. Without God’s Word we die. In Scripture we heard God’s voice… His Spirit comforts us… He strengthens us… He builds us up.
Conclusion: When struggling our “go to” source for help is The Word. Devour it. Meditate upon it. Reflect upon it. Ruminate upon it. From there access all the others… people, physical needs, or whatever else… but don’t neglect Scripture!