19 Greet Priscilla[a] and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus. 21 Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers.
22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.
2 Timothy 4:9-22
Everyone goes through disappointments. But it’s hard when those discouragements come from people who you depend on or trust. It hurts deeper when people you care about turn against you or do you harm, at least in your perception. How do you handle such disappointments?
Paul had a lot of disappointments with people near the end of his life. There was Demas who loved the world and deserted Paul, Alexander the metal worker who opposed the Gospel and did Paul a great harm, and several unnamed people who deserted Paul on his first defense (everyone deserted me, v.16). It must have been hard for people to deal with all these disappointments. But somehow Paul found his encouragement in the Lord. The Lord stood by his side in his time of need (vv.17-18). Still, Paul did four things to help himself. First, he focused on those who could encourage him. He asked Timothy to come to him (v.9). He greeted and remembered Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus (v.19), all of whom encouraged him in the past, and most likely still encouraged him in the present. He even surrounded himself with encouraging people (v.21). Second, he forgave people. He forgave Mark (v.11) who probably hurt him in the past (Acts 13:13). In the case of Alexander, he allowed the Lord to judge (The Lord will repay him for what he has done, v.14). He did the same thing with those who deserted him (May it not be held against them, v.16). Third, he found ways to nurture his own soul. He asked Timothy to bring his scrolls and parchments (v.13). These may be OT scrolls or his own writings which he wanted to work on. Finally, he fought discouragement by serving people. He continued to preach the Gospel in spite of his miserable situation (v.17). He even encouraged Timothy and the others even though he was the one who needed encouragement (v.22). All in all, he was being proactive, trusting God to care for his own need for encouragement as he pursues positive steps toward encouraging his own soul before the Lord. In other words, the Lord’s encouragement is the antidote to your discouragement.
You cannot prevent discouragements from happening. They are bound to happen especially when you are relating with people. When discouragements come, you must seek encouragement from the Lord. This is the only way you can continue serving and not become bitter toward people.