Read 2 Timothy 1:15-18.
“… everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.” (vs.15)
The fact Paul is “painting with a rollerbrush” when he makes this statement doesn’t ease any of its pain for us. No, not everyone had literally deserted him (he immediately mentions Onesiphorus and will tell us Luke is with him toward the end of his letter [4:11]), but it certainly felt like it. After all, how many times Paul helped these many believers in Ephesus and the surrounding area and yet not one of them came to support him when he was in his hour of need (4:16). We wince a bit at the thought of it, fear paralyzing a host of believers and so, wounding the heart of the man of faith that had helped them all so very much for so very long with all he had to give. It’s all somewhat reminiscent, and all too parallel, with our Lord’s experience at his trial and at his crucifixion, is it not? That’s what fear is good for, for people of faith – absolutely nothing.
“May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. … You know very well in how many ways he helped me …” (vs.16,18b)
But, oh, what a difference one person can make. It’s the sort of difference Onesiphorus made with Paul. People of faith need people of encouragement, people who will walk by faith with them through thick and thin. Though we would hold up Paul as a model of what Christian way and witness is about, I get the impression that if Paul could reply he would say, “Don’t look at me, look at Onesiphorus if you want to see what faith, service, hope, encouragement and love is all about. Because Onesiphorus lived out such things, I have been blessed.” How different things might have been if this one had not “been there” for Paul. How different might things have been for us all down through the ages.
Heavenly Father, for the times you have crossed my path with people of faith and hope when my faith was cracking and my hope was waning, I thank you in Christ’s name. Grant them all your mercy and blessing, I pray. For your constant provision of what I need when I need it, I thank you. May my memory of your service to me through others be long and may my service to others because of you be unending, like my thankfulness. Amen.