2 Timothy 4:16-18
At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
He was wrongly accused of multiple murders, despite a provable alibi, a successful polygraph, and no credible forensic evidence. Officials willfully ignored facts. Convicted, he spent nearly 30 years in solitary confinement awaiting execution on Alabama’s death row. Fifty-four men walked by him to the execution chamber.
Sustaining Anthony Ray Hinton through long years was a childhood friend, visiting faithfully over some 1,560 weeks. It took 14 years of contested litigation before the Supreme Court, in a rare unanimous ruling, released Hinton on April 3, 2015. His lawyer, Bryan Stevenson, writes that Hinton’s story is “something of a miracle. [His journey coursed] around the gates death…[a man] who nonetheless remains hopeful, forgiving, and faithful” (The Sun Does Shine, St. Martin’s Press, 2018).
History finds the human story profusely littered with such justice miscarriage. Most notable, that of Jesus the Christ. Completely innocent, yet brutalized unto death as if the worst of the worst. His chosen apostles enduring a similar end. God’s sons and daughters may find themselves—in the will of God—the target of wrongful accusation, arrest, execution. And along the way, desertion by others.
Soak in Paul’s perspective. Forgiveness: “May it not be charged against them” (i.e., their desertion of Paul). Comfort: “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me.” Purpose: “That through me the message (i.e., the Gospel) be fully proclaimed…that all might hear it.” In our tough, alone moments, directed by our Father’s will, may we simply be empowered by our Lord’s sweet presence.