2Ti 4:9-13 Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. The book of 2 Timothy is part of what we refer to as the prison epistles. They are letters written while the Apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome awaiting his execution. From them we discover that Paul had to deal with an emotion which plagues all of us at one time or another, loneliness.
In our busy, over-populated world it seems a bit strange that loneliness could ever be a problem for anyone. The simple fact is this: just keeping busy or being around a lot of people, does not lighten the weight of loneliness.
In that damp, dark dungeon the Apostle Paul wrestled with loneliness. We want to make our way back into history and observe the way that Paul dealt with this very difficult problem that we might learn how to handle loneliness in our own lives.
A. The believer and the non-believer.
1. Unsaved people are lonely because their lives are filled with emptiness.
2. Without God in their life, they have no lasting relationships, only temporal ones.
3. But Satan can also attack the life of a believer and can bring about loneliness, in several different ways.
B. Loneliness strikes the strong as well as the weak.
A. When we are distant from cherished friends.
1. Ones to whom he had been close were now gone for varying reasons: (10-12, 19-20)
a. Demas, compromising his faith, deserted him.
b. Crescens had gone to Galatia.
c. Titus had gone to Dalmatia.
d. Priscilla and Aquila were engaged in their own ministry now.
e. Erastus was in Corinth.
f. Trophimus was sick in Miletus.
2. Except for Luke, all those on whom he had depended for love and support were scattered.
3. At that moment, Paul needed some close friends.
B. When our memories bring back nostalgic reminders. v16-17
1. Paul was reviewing his yesteryears.
2. He thought back to his first defense, when he found himself to be alone and unsupported.
3. As he recalled to mind the past events he also remembered how that God had stood by him.
4. He thought of the Protection and deliverance that God had provided for him throughout his ministry.
C. When certain times of the year occur. v9; v21
1. Winter was on its way, and the change of seasons could be felt down below in the stony, dark dungeon of Rome.
2. Certain times of the year are lonelier than others for some people.
3. Perhaps, because they serve as a reminder of some sad event in our lives.
D. When the future looks dim. v6
1. Paul knew that death was very near, he could see the end approaching.
2. The ministry of the gospel had literally revolved around the Apostle Paul, but now he was in prison with no hope for release.
3. The ministry, which had been such an important part of Paul's life, would now have to be carried on by others.
III. Positive Results of Loneliness.
A. It makes us aware of the significance of others.
1. The apostle may never have appreciated Luke so much as he did while in prison.
2. Luke was the only one left who could assist his physical needs.
3. Paul even viewed John-Mark in a different light.
Ac 15:37-39 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;
a. Mark had left them and then rejoined them, but Paul did not want to take him with them.
b. as a result, Barnabas and Paul parted company.
c. But now, Paul views him as 'profitable'
B. It forces us to turn our concern over to God.
1. Alexander had wronged the apostle, but Paul was not in a position to respond to him. v14-15
2. He was alone, therefore, he had to rely upon God.
IV. Remedies for Loneliness.
A. Request for companionship. v9-11
1. It wasn't a request for people, but for friends.
2. Of all the friends Paul had throughout his ministry he chose three to be with him at the end
3. They were Luke, John-Mark, and, Timothy.
4. A true friend is one with whom you can share your inner-most feelings with, and they will stick by you.
B. Request for bodily comfort. (v13)
1. proper health will help keep our minds off ourselves.
2. Winter was on its way and -Paul knew that it soon be cold ... the cloak ... bring with thee.
3. It could also have held sentimental value.
C. Request for reading material. (v13)
1. Paul was an itinerant missionary who had a library
2. 'books' indicates volumes other than Scripture.
3. Paul realized that thought-provoking reading matter could, raise his sights beyond his dismal location.
4. He had no sermons to prepare, no audience to address, he simply wanted to keen his mind working.
D. Request for the Scriptures. (v13)
1. ' ... but especially the parchments'
2. I wonder what Scriptures texts were - Paul's favorite?
3. Whichever they were, he found strength from spending time with them.
4. He desired all the others, but especially the parchments.
Many people, when they find themselves overcome by loneliness, simply cry and moan 'Poor me...no one ever had it so hard'. That is not a solution to the problem, it merely intensifies it. When we are lonely, we need to remember Paul's experiences. We need to come to terms with it. It is the perfect time to say, "Lord, I've exhausted all my alternatives; now it's just You and me. Have your will and way in my life, and I'll honor you." Loneliness can cripple you if you let it. But if we choose instead to deal with it, we can learn some valuable lessons along the way.