2 Timothy 4:9–22; Psalm 90:1–17
Loneliness is one of the most disheartening feelings a person can know. Being alone in a time of pain is even worse. Several recent surveys suggest that lonely people—especially teenagers—subtly reach out through their social networks, desperately looking for someone who cares. In a world where anyone can get attention online, we’ve moved away from authentic community. We continue to crave personal interactions—perhaps more so because we have electronic witness to the interactions of others. We as Christians should see this as an opportunity to reach out to disenfranchised, lonely people and show the love of Christ to others.
Paul’s second letter to Timothy illustrates how feelings of loneliness are amplified by pain. He makes one of the most candid statements in the Bible:
“At my first defense, no one came to my aid, but they all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord helped me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fulfilled and all the Gentiles might hear, and he rescued me from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will save me for his heavenly kingdom, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (2 Tim 4:16–18).
Paul is angry and hurt, but he’s well aware that God has been and will continue to be his strength. He acknowledges that he needs and craves community, but he clearly states that God is foremost in his life. He then reminds Timothy of God’s work in his life and others’—ending with “Amen,” meaning “So be it.” Paul’s reliance on God’s past faithfulness bears a striking resemblance to a statement from Psa 90: “O Lord, you have been our help in all generations. Before the mountains were born and you brought forth the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God” (Psa 90:1–2).
This psalm emphasizes that God always has and always will be a “help” to His people. While we can take comfort in that, we should make every effort—as people aspiring to live like Christ—to help others. For Paul found God not only in His provision of spiritual strength, but in the kindness of others.
How can you show God’s kindness and faithfulness to people who are lonely?
John D. Barry