“At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear…” 2 Timothy 4:16-17
Just when the apostle Paul could have used the help and support of his co-workers, so to speak, of the people he surely must have expected to help him, they took off! Now he wouldn’t be able to do what God had called him to do, right? Surely he would be filled with anger and self-pity, and he would have to stop doing what God had called him to do, or he would fail if he bothered to try, right? Wrong!
Have you ever felt like the people around you, the people you counted on to help you, those whom you trusted, those who appeared to have exactly what you needed to fulfill the will of the Lord, those who seemed best able to provide the help and support you really could use, bailed out on you? Left you all alone? Took off running? Turned their backs on you? Like now you wouldn’t be able to do what God had called you to do, not without their help anyway? Like there was no way you could possibly forgive them, and like you were going to just about drown in bitterness, hurt, and self-pity?
The verses above make clear Paul’s success in serving God at that time came because he chose faith, forgiveness, and perseverance. How so? He believed God would provide what he needed to fulfill God’s will. He forgave those who bailed out on him and even asked God to forgive them, too. And instead of quitting and forsaking what God had given him to do, he chose to persevere. How could he possibly do this? And how could he succeed in what God had given him to do without the help of those whose help and support he surely needed? The answer is utterly clear. And he answers this questions himself. The Lord was with him! The Lord gave him the strength he needed! The Lord was his provider! And in the strength of the Lord, Paul persevered and prevailed in accomplishing the mission the Lord had given him! Instead of looking to the people to provide what he needed, and being dismayed, disappointed, discouraged, and depressed because they failed to show up for him, he looked to the Lord for what he needed. His success was in Christ! All he needed was in the Lord!
If you feel let down by those around you, and like you cannot possibly fulfill the will of the Lord without their help, love the people, forgive the people, and look to the Lord to provide all you need to fulfill His will for your life. Whether He provides through others, or provides to you directly, and this may change from situation to situation and experience to experience, from moment to moment and day to day, remember the provider of all that we need to fulfill the will of the Lord and to bring glory to His name is the Lord Himself! Paul loved, forgave, believed, and persevered. He was faithful in following the Lord. Let us do the same, shall we?