Read 2 Timothy 4:9-16
9 Timothy, please come as soon as you can. 10 Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, be sure to bring the coat I left with Carpus at Troas. Also bring my books, and especially my papers.
14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm, but the Lord will judge him for what he has done. 15 Be careful of him, for he fought against everything we said. 16 The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. (NLT)
An old fable has the Archangel Michael demanding that Satan give up attacking humanity. Satan reluctantly agreed to give up all his weapons but pleaded that he keep just one. This was agreed. The weapon he chose to keep was discouragement.
To be discouraged is to lose the strength and will to do what needs to be done. It is to feel like giving up, to believe that nothing will get better, that the odds in life are stacked against us. It can come on us through focussing on our failings, through letting adverse circumstances overwhelm the good promises of God.
But it can also come through being let down by others. Our text today reminds us that Paul, at the end of his days on earth, was let down. True, some wonderfully supported him. Yet others deserted him. It is right and proper to depend on others, to expect certain things of them. We simply need to remember that those expectations will not always be met.
Expecting too much actually destroys relationships: we create impossible demands which cannot be met. And even our legitimate expectations may not be met. At those times we have to fix our eyes on those who do in fact bless us—as did Paul. And also remind ourselves that our fellow human beings are, in the end, only human.
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