16 May the Lord show mercy to the house of Onesiphorous, because he often refreshed me, and was not afraid of my chains. – 2 Timothy 1:16
Other than Jesus Christ himself, who’s your favorite Bible character? Noah. Abraham. Sarah. Moses. David. Peter. Paul. John. Mary. The unnamed thief on the cross. When picking your favorite Bible character, aren’t the options endless?
How about Onesiphorous?
We don’t know much about him, other than this verse. But what a verse it is! Here’s what had happened…the Apostle Paul was in prison. Any day, the executioner could come to his cell and say, “Today’s the day, Paul. Let’s go.”
And there was some personal agony he had to endure. Many in the province of Asia had deserted him. He went to prison, and they ran the other direction. They were ashamed to be associated with him. But not Onesiphorous and his family. Instead of running away, they ran toward Paul’s chains. Instead of stabbing his soul another time, they refreshed him with God’s encouragement. They gave him some time. They helped him cope with his lonely prison cell. They didn’t mind being called one of his friends, even though he was in chains. They loved Paul for the long haul.
Is there someone you know in chains today? Maybe loneliness has dragged them down. Maybe guilt has them all locked up inside. Maybe fear has them paralyzed and helpless. Maybe they aren’t sure what to do next.
Don’t run the other direction. There’s no need to be afraid. Become an expert listener. Share Jesus and his stabilizing forgiveness. Give plenty of time, and simply treat others as Jesus has treated you. You never know who the Lord might place in your path today, and who you might be able to refresh.
Prayer: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen. (Prayer written by Francis of Assisi, c. 1182-1226)