Comfort and Joy – Philemon

We end the introduction to Philemon with verse 7, a very tender and personal connection between Paul and Philemon:

For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother,
because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

Paul’s relationship with Philemon personally comforted him and gave him joy. I would imagine there were a lot of things in prison that were not bringing Paul comfort or joy. Maybe it was the drunk in the next cell who kept throwing up? Maybe it was the man cursing the Romans for arresting him? 

And I would imagine there were few joys. Maybe when Timothy or others came to visit?. Maybe when he received a letter from one of the other churches? But I can’t imagine there were many.

So what brought Paul the joy and comfort? Knowing Philemon was doing the work that Paul so desperately wanted to do.  Whenever he talked with people, they told him how much Philemon had encouraged them, given them hope and truth. Even though Paul could not be with them, it gave him comfort and joy to know their needs were being met.

Sometimes I feel so far away from my family and friends. I long for them, long to be a part of their lives, to see them smile. But I know I can’t, so I pray for others to come into their lives, to be that person for them, so that their needs can be met.

I have to confess, sometimes when I hear of their other friends and the great relationship they are enjoying, I become jealous. I wish I could be there. But then I remember how I prayed and how God was answering my prayer. I still wish I could be there, but it does bring me joy and comfort to know that God is “refreshing” their hearts.

Whose heart do I need to “refresh” today?

God’s Comfort – Philemon

Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother.

You may be feeling this is painfully slow, and I can’t promise I will go faster as we go along because it’s however the Lord leads. But this is an important point:

Paul was not alone.

Timothy was with him. Since it is not mentioned that Timothy was also jailed, I assume this means that Timothy came to see him, maybe to bring him writing supplies, maybe to tell him the morning news, maybe to pray with him and be taught. 

And Timothy was considered “our” brother, shared by Paul and Philemon. To me, it assumes some recognition of a relationship. This could have been in person – maybe they had been at the marketplace together when Paul was speaking. Or maybe there was a “house church conference” where Paul spoke. Or maybe it was just through reputation, hearing reports how the gospel was spreading. However it was, Timothy was not just Paul’s brother in Christ, but Philemon’s Brother.

But just the little fact that Timothy was with Paul makes me feel…comforted.

As an introvert, I like being alone, but I also hate feeling alone. I don’t want to be deserted, abandoned. Yes, give me a little space to have my own thoughts, but don’t ignore me.

Paul was not abandoned in prison. In God’s mercy and grace, he sent him Timothy to be with him, even as he’s writing this letter. Maybe Timothy delivered the letter? Timothy had freedoms Paul did not have. Timothy connected Paul with others.

We were not created to be alone. God saw Adam in the garden and knew it was not good for him to be alone. We are made in God’s image, and he is a triune god – 3 in one – fellowship and connection with different parts of what makes up himself. We desperately need connection.

God, in his grace and mercy, gave Paul Timothy.

It makes me wonder, Who is my Timothy?  Who has God brought alongside me to comfort me, to connect me, to just be with me?