The Apostle Paul sat in a Roman prison, swept up in Nero’s fierce persecution of Christians. Imprisonment – and worse – was nothing new to Paul. As Jesus told Ananias decades earlier, “I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:16).
Paul certainly had suffered for the cause of Christ. Yet, as he told the Colossians during a previous imprisonment, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is the church” (Colossians 1:24). Anything was worth it for Jesus and His body; but, this time was different, as he wrote to his “beloved child” in the faith, Timothy (II Timothy 1:2).
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come” (II Timothy 4:6). Paul had no doubts about the life he lived, and he was ready. He knew that the Lord had rescued and would still rescue him, though this time by bringing him “safely into His heavenly kingdom” when Nero’s sword fell (II Timothy 4:17-18).
Knowing this, Paul had something important to tell his “beloved child”. He prayed for Timothy “night and day” (II Timothy 1:3). He wanted to encourage and by God’s grace strengthen Timothy to follow his example and stand firm in his faith, no matter what may happen.
Do you know what else? This dad also just really wanted to see his child. “I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy…Do your best to come soon…When you come…Do your best to come before winter” (II Timothy 1:4, 4:9, 4:13, 4:21). Can you feel the urgency and emotion in Paul’s words? He was ready to go be with Jesus. Until that time came, though, he wanted nothing more than a few more moments with his beloved child.
May we all follow his beautiful example. May we be children who fill our parents – biological or otherwise – with joy. May we be parents who cover our children in prayer, set them an example worth following, and let them know how much it means to us to see them for as long as we can.