Pastor Richard Wurmbrand was imprisoned for 14 years in Romania for his faith in Christ. He was eventually ransomed and immigrated to America. Upon arriving, he founded a ministry called Voice of the Martyrs. The purpose was not only to raise awareness about Christians around the world who were persecuted but also to encourage and help those who were suffering. He wanted them to know they were not alone.
In today’s reading, Paul urges Timothy to “do your best to come to me quickly” (v. 9). One reason is that Paul is feeling isolated and alone. Many of his associates had left him for various reasons. Crescens and Titus were both traveling for ministry purposes (v. 10). Demas, who had once been a close ministry partner of Paul’s, abandoned him “because he loved this world” (v. 10).
Paul asked Timothy to bring Mark (v. 11). This is the same Mark whom Paul did not want to bring on his second missionary journey because he had previously abandoned them (Acts 15:36–40). We do not know the whole story, but Mark had been rehabilitated in Paul’s eyes. He was now “helpful to me in my ministry” (v. 11).
In spite of his feeling of isolation, Paul knew he was not really alone. At his first defense, “the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength” (v. 16). Paul’s ultimate desire in his trial was not his acquittal, but that “through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it” (v. 17). To the very end, Paul had a clear-eyed focus on his mission to proclaim Jesus as Lord.
>> It is possible to feel isolated as a Christian even if we are not in prison for the faith. When we are in that situation, we can follow Paul’s example. He asked for help. He understood that he needed fellowship. He also reminded himself that God was present with him at all times. He was not alone.
Today’s Scripture shows us the heartbreak of isolation and the importance of community. Praise God for the people around you, your church, your work community, and your friends. Ask Him to be with you in times of loneliness.