No One Stood With Me

In the final writings of the apostle Paul, a plea is made to his young "son in the faith," Timothy, to come quickly to him and before winter. Second Timothy 4 is a personal and passionate letter of hope preserved for all time, speaking words of expectation from the life of Paul. He speaks of his pending death in terms of victory, not defeat. He seeks to set various parts of his life in order such as bidding Timothy to come quickly and bring Mark, along with his cloak he left with Carpus at Troas. He also solicits Timothy to bring his books and especially the parchments.

In these moments of reflection, Paul is reminded of what Alexander the coppersmith did to him and he allows God to take charge of that matter. Sadly, Paul recounts when he presented his "first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me." (4:16) How difficult those thoughts came to Paul as rehearsed the events that lead to his imprisonment and pending death. When he stood to make his defense before men, he had not a friend who would stand with him. He stood alone in the court of world opinion and only his words would be heard.

Paul knew anyone who would stand next to him would be found in the same place as he now found himself. No one had the courage to face the trial he faced or the consequence of his preaching. He was abandoned, forsaken and left to defend his own name. It saddened his heart greatly for lack of a human hand to hold firmly too or a soothing voice of comfort to give trust in. He could have recalled the wonderful times in Philippi when, thrown into the inner prison and his feet fastened in stocks, he and Silas prayed together and sang hymns to God - together.

At his first defense there was no one there as all had deserted him. But he knew that the lives of those who deserted them were still being impacted by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul was an older man of greater wisdom and understanding of the human spirit. He knew of those who deserted him of the ir weakness' and their needs before God. He does not hold a spirit of vengeance against them but in humility pleads for the Lord's blessing upon them. "May it not be charged against them." (4:16)

The scene of Paul is a mirror of so many who have found themselves suffering for Christ and suffering alone. The example of Jesus is set forth for those who desire to follow after Him and bear their cross. Jesus said in John 16:32, "Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am no alone, because the Father is with Me." Like his Lord, Paul knew that when no one would stand up for him, God was always there. He writes, "But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!" (4:17,18)

In our daily struggles we can be forsaken by all men and no one will stand with us. We can find ourselves as the only person in the world who is seeking to do what is right. Our reward does not come from the presence of our friends but from the presence of our God. Many times we forsake others when we should be stronger. As Paul prayed for those who left him, we too must grow in strength and courage to face the difficulties of life. Remember how important we are to one another and how we need to stand with others for the cause of Christ. When all is said and done, may we remember the words of our God: "I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:5,6)

By Kent E. Heaton Sr.

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