- Ballynahinch Congregational
The Lord stood with me
By Rev Victor Neill
‘At my first answer (first hearing of my case) no man stood with me, all men forsook me‘ 1st Timothy 4 v16
There were times when Paul found himself bereft of Christian companionship and support and this was so when he first appeared before the Roman authorities on a charge. The reason he was before the authorities was all to do with his faithful preaching of the Gospel of Christ. His preaching was not acceptable to the authorities because he preached the necessity of repentance and being committed and surrendered to Christ the only Saviour and acknowledging Him as Lord. Emperor worship, as well as the worship of idols was the order of the day and so as far as the Roman authorities were concerned, Paul’s preaching was a crime.
It would seem none of Paul’s close companions were in the region at that time and others who may have professed Christ and who initially had associated themselves with Paul, became too afraid to publicly associate themselves with him. For Paul that must have been disappointing and yet Paul had a big heart and held no grudge against them and was able to write, ‘All men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge‘ (vs 16 b). He was already convinced that the end of his earthly pilgrimage was close 'The time of my departure is at hand’ ( vs 6b). And even though human fellowship at that time would have been comforting and encouraging, yet in his difficult situation He knew the Lord would not desert him! Paul had the confidence just to lean on the Lord, for he knew the ancient promise stood true ‘Fear not, for I am with thee, be not dismayed for I am thy God, I will strengthen thee; yea I will help thee‘ (Isaiah 41 v10). And indeed, Paul testified that was his experience, 'Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me‘ (vs 17).
It is the case that the Lord will come to His children when others are unwilling to help or who are simply unable to help in the situation and will strengthen them in a way that no one else can do! So, believer if you find yourself in a difficult and dark place where it seems no one wants to help or indeed has the ability to help, then take courage and keep looking to and leaning on the Lord. Paul and many saints have done so, and you will find as they, that He will stand with you and strengthen you. James Renwick, Scottish Covenanter, the night before his martyrdom wrote:
'He (The Lord) has strengthened me to brave man and face death, and I am now longing for the joyful hour of my dissolution‘