I sat in shock, listening to a friend describe how she had been upset with me for months. We served together on a large ministry leadership team at our church for years. Both of us had volunteered countless hours pouring our hearts and our lives into the women of our church. All the while, I assumed we fully supported one another.
But a friend had told her I didn’t agree with her leadership style based on something I’d said in a meeting many months before when asked to share my perspective on something. She hadn’t been at the meeting, and sadly what I’d said was taken out of context, repackaged and presented to her in a way that sounded like I was talking about her. But I wasn’t. And, instead of coming to me, she’d gone to others.
“Why didn’t someone stand up for me?” I wondered.
In one of his letters to Timothy, the apostle Paul describes a time when life and ministry got really hard. He had been slandered, and no one came to his defense or supported him. Instead, they deserted him.
“Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.
At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.” 2 Timothy 14-19
In the midst of feeling hurt by others and abandoned by friends, Paul tells Timothy that God stood with him and gave him the strength to keep standing in the place God had called him to.
As I sat there, feeling as though someone had come against me, and no one stood up for me, my pain deepened. Feeling all alone, I started planning my exit strategy. I didn’t want anything to do with women or ministry if this was where it got me.
But somehow, in that sacred space of brokenness, the Holy Spirit reminded me of Jesus. How He had been misunderstood and misrepresented by those He loved. People had hurt Him, betrayed Him, and abandoned Him – yet He stayed.
He stayed where God put Him — in messy ministry, in broken relationships, in hard places. But most of all, Jesus stayed on the cross so we would never have to stand alone.
Whatever you are facing today, whether you feel misunderstood, betrayed, abandoned, or uncertain, there is one thing you can be absolutely sure of: you are NOT alone!
I pray the words Paul wrote in his letter to Timothy will bring you the comfort and courage they brought to me:
But the Lord stood by my side and gave me strength . . .
2 Timothy 4:17a (NIV)
Let’s ask God for the courage to stay in those hard places and relationships He has called us. No matter who is standing with us or against us, God is standing by our side. And I’d love to stand by your side in prayer today? Let me know in a word or two how I can pray for you.