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Deserted But Not Abandoned

2 Timothy 4:16-18
At my first defence, no-one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 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. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (NIV)

There is no record of all the events of Paul’s imprisonment and trials in Rome; but this episode was clearly dramatic. The Apostle was being tried in a criminal court, and no Christian wanted to stand with him to support or testify in court. He was deserted by his friends, with the death sentence hanging over him – death by ferocious lions in an arena watched by jeering crowds who saw it as sport. But he was not alone because he knew that the Lord Jesus was standing there, holding back the lies of his accusers and preventing a guilty verdict.
Instead, Paul was able to explain the gospel in open court, no doubt telling them about Jesus Christ the Son of God who died as a sacrifice and was raised as a victor. The experience had not weakened his resolve to preach the gospel; rather, it had made him bolder. Paul also hoped that it would be an encouragement to Timothy when he faced similar dilemmas. For the Apostle, death was inevitable sometime; the only uncertainty was when and how. Its threat would never deter him from speaking about Jesus, for when death came Paul was confident that God would safely bring him into His presence for ever. Until then, Paul was determined to continue preaching so that Christ would be glorified.
Although it is good to have support from believing friends, it is never guaranteed nor is it essential for us to serve the Lord. Yes - team ministry, personal encouragement, mentoring and accountability relationships are very helpful but there will be situations where nobody else is there to reassure you and spur you on. Although it is wonderful to be part of the Body of Christ, our essential connection is with Him who is the Head of the body. He never leaves us and will never forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). Even if everybody deserts us, the Lord will stand by our side. So even if nobody else stands with you for Christ where you work, He stands for you! So do not be disheartened or afraid.

God of all strength and comfort. Thank You that You will never leave me alone. Forgive me when I become frightened when my friends disappear; I know that You will never leave me abandoned. Help me to trust You so that when circumstances close in on me, I may know the powerful liberty of Your presence. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams