longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy.2 Timothy 1:4(NASB)
As he penned his final epistle from a dungeon in Rome, Paul wanted to encourage this young pastor to stand fast in the faith and endure the inevitable challenges he would face, if he were to be faithful in ministry, remain true to the glorious gospel of grace, and preach the Word of God to a world that was dead in sins and at enmity with God.
Timothy was Paul's dear son in the faith, and this verse alone shows how his heart yearned for his young protégé - to whom this letter was addressed. Paul wanted to encourage this young man to remain faithful to his ministry and pastoral duties, as he preached the Word and shared the gospel of Christ with those in need... knowing how easy it is to become discouraged in a hostile and godless world.
Timothy had ministered alongside Paul on a number of his missionary journeys and, no doubt, the imprisoned apostle knew that his time was short, his death was close, and that the furtherance of the gospel of grace would depend on the fortitude, faithfulness, and forbearance of younger men like Timothy, and so we read: "I long to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy."
It seems that Timothy was a gentle man who apparently wept when he and Paul parted for the last time. I am sure all of us who are saved by grace through faith in Christ, have felt a twinge of tears as we recall the valued input of a trusted teacher or godly pastor who no longer are with us... or have gone to be with the Lord.
The burden of responsibility starts to weigh increasingly heavily on the shoulders of those who are left behind to stand firm in the truth of God's Word and forward the gospel to a lost world that is in need of a Saviour.
Paul must have remembered Timothy's tears and understood his apprehension. No doubt this young pastor was aware that a prison cell was awaiting this much-loved prophet of God and that death was standing in the wings to envelop this godly man who had taught him all he knew about Jesus, ministered to him the wonders of God's Word, and instructed him to grow in grace, mature in the faith, and teach others the truth of the gospel of grace.
But there is no greater joy than knowing that one's children are walking with the Lord, growing spiritually, and standing firm in the faith, and I am sure that Paul longed to see his beloved Timothy, knowing that their fellowship in the Lord would bring much mutual joy and rejoicing.
We who have been justified by faith, may miss loved ones who are far away or who have gone to be with the Lord, but we do not grieve as others who have no hope. Our blessed hope is Jesus Who is soon coming to take us to be with Himself. Though earthly weeping may endure for a night, joy will come in the morning when we are with Him, for we shall see Him as He is and we shall be like Him - to the glory of God the Father.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the epistles of Paul and for this final letter to Timothy. I praise You for the wisdom and grace that is shared in its pages. Thank You for those in my life who taught me the glorious gospel of grace, and for those who are younger in the faith whose lives have impacted mine. May I hold fast to the truth that I have learned, give encouragement to my brothers and sisters in Christ, and develop the qualities of faithfulness, fortitude, and forbearance, as I make my way through this increasingly cruel and ungodly world. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.