at my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. may it not be charged against them! [2 timothy 4:16]
ever pondered what it would be like to be completely deserted – with no one by your side in your greatest hour of need? some of you may know this pain … some of you may not. this was the pain and isolation paul knew in his last days in this roman jail. as he was arraigned and charged by the authorities for the last portion of his life … “no one came”. it wasn’t that they got the court time wrong, got stuck in traffic, or just weren’t in town. no. paul said, “all deserted me.”
this kind of desertion is full of many unique hurts that speak: rejection, utter abandonment, you aren’t worth it, you’ve been forgotten, and more.
i have some good news and bad news.
the bad news first. if you follow Jesus, most likely, there have been days or will be days like this in your life. standing for and living in the unabashed holy love of Jesus, you will live through days when others choose the closed-handed, selfish love of this world … and leave you standing alone. they may physically leave you. or, they may be with you, just not with you. which at times is even worse. Jesus promised, as his follower, these days will come for you.
in the world you will have tribulation. [john 16:33]
this word “tribulation” means a pressing that presses the life right out of you. it can be a literal pressing, or a figurative pressing. either way, the pain seems unbearable.
now for the good news! hear the rest of what Jesus said about our pressings, our tribulations, the moments we are deserted…
in the world you will have tribulation. but take heart, i have overcome the world. [john 16:33]
we could stop here and just go worship. i pray you do – worship. but there is so much rich hope for you and i in this small verse that we need to unpack it fully this morning.
Jesus and his finished work is greater than any darkness you and i will ever face!
- Jesus is greater because he too fully knows this kind of desertion and its many unique hurts that speak: rejection, utter abandonment, you aren’t worth it, you’ve been forgotten, and more. he experienced all this on the cross for you and i … because of our sin. at its heart, all sin is deserting God for other gods, other glories. he was deserted to pay for our desertion.
- Jesus is greater because the one who was deserted for you and i was not destroyed by this like we would have been. it killed him, yes. but he rose from the dead proving he is greater than any darkness in us and in this world!
- Jesus is greater and now the great one lives in us by faith and will never leave you or forsake you. you are not alone!
- Jesus is greater because he will fill you with his holy love and holy peace when you are deserted. and at that moment, you will know this peace and love is not from you. paul knew this holy love and peace. it is why he was able to say, “may it not be charged against them!” that kind of grace is not from you and i.
bad news, we will know desertion.
good news, Jesus is greater. his presence … is much … greater!
today, rest in his powerful and beautiful presence as you meditate on john 16:33. 1) think on where and how you have deserted him in the last week, month. run to him and confess. he hears and has forgiven. 2) then, rejoice in the one who will never leave or forsake you! he is with you! 3) if you have been deserted, pour this out too. he knows your pain. he is with you! he is your Savior, who is your Comforter, your Healer, your Peace!
come LORD, Jesus. come meet with us now!
~ john ryan