Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV - For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
2 Timothy 4:9-11, 16-18 NKJV - Be diligent to come to me [in prison] quickly; 10 for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry… 16 At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. 17 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. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 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!
In Paul’s final letter before dying as a prisoner, he expressed the pain of being forsaken - especially by his ministry friend, Demas. Others forsook Paul out of fear when he was arrested (like the apostles did to Jesus in Gethsemane), but he prayed for their forgiveness. Paul sympathized with their fear motive, but Demas simply loved the corruption and sinfulness of the present world. Verse 17 indicates the most important reality to remember: “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…”
When you are forsaken and abandoned, including by fellow Christians, can you keep your focus on the mission like Paul did? Notice, the strength of Christ was tied to Paul’s continuing to make a difference in the lives of others. When you are forsaken by friends, family, or fellow believers, will you keep promoting the Gospel and serving the cause of Christ’s kingdom? How you answer may determine how much comfort you receive from God. Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always…” but that was in the context of the mission to make disciples. We are followers of the Wounded Healer. Shouldn’t we expect to be like Him?
Paul kept his life-giving relationships (Timothy, Luke, Mark) without becoming distrusting. Paul kept sharing the Gospel to those who were lost. Paul kept his writing ministry to encourage and help the church. Will you likewise let God strengthen you in times of abandonment by staying focused on serving and fostering God-honoring relationships?