Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.—2 Timothy 4:9-13
Loneliness is a big obstacle to perseverance. I don’t know what’s going on in your heart and life today, but I wonder how many people reading this are feeling lonely. Everybody goes through loneliness at some point in life—even the apostle Paul. Sometimes you can feel isolated in a crowd. “Who really understands me? How many people do I know that have really walked the road that I'm walking?” Loneliness is definitely an obstacle to perseverance.
As Paul is winding down his second letter to Timothy, he writes, “Do your best to come to me soon” (v.9). Now that is a pretty vulnerable request. Paul is nearing the end of his life. Timothy has been his young protégé, now probably in his early forties, a faithful, successful pastor. Paul said, “Man, I don’t mind telling you that I need you a.s.a.p!” Paul had not hidden from Timothy the affection he had for him (see 1 Timothy 1:2 and 2 Timothy 1:2). If you have ever hurried to the bedside of a dying relative, then you understand that Paul did not want to die alone. Paul was experiencing loneliness.
Notice other contributing factors. “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me” (v.10). This didn’t mean that Demas loved material things. It means that he was afraid of being a martyr and paying the price that Paul was going to pay. Have you ever had people abandon you because of your commitment to following Christ? Others (Crescens and Titus)hadn’t deserted, but were gone and Paul felt their absence keenly. How tender the words in verse 11:“Only Luke is with me.” Luke’s faithful, solitary presence highlighted Paul’s isolation.
Paul added, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me in ministry” (v.11b). That request is amazing, since years before, Mark had been like Demas and abandoned the team (see Acts 13:13; 15:36-41). Paul and Barnabas had a split over giving Mark another chance. But Mark and Paul eventually reconciled, as seen in Paul’s longing for him.
The challenge of perseverance involves the reality that we will have to live through loneliness. Human friendships are part of God’s gift to us. He will also be with us in that valley. —James MacDonald
· What relationships has God brought into my life as gifts for times of loneliness and encouragement to persevere?
· How have I thanked those people lately?
Father, thank You for Paul’s example of vulnerability. Thank You for the reminder that Your servants accomplish great things for You, not because that way is easy, but because they really count on You when the way is hard! Help me remember that loneliness can be a healthy reminder that I need others and that I especially need You! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.