(Charles Spurgeon, “The Sick Man Left Behind!”1880)
“But Trophimus have I left at Miletus sick.” 2 Timothy 4:20
“From the fact that Paul left Trophimus at Miletus sick, we learn that it is the will of God that some holy men should be sick. Whatever the malady may have been which affected Trophimus, Paul could certainly have healed him if God had permitted him. Paul had raised up Eutychus from death, and he had given the use of his limbs to the cripple at Lystra.
Not so, however, had the Lord willed; the good fruit-bearing vine must be pruned–and Trophimus must suffer. There were holy ends to be answered by his sickness, which could not be compassed by his health. Instantaneous restoration could have been given, but it was withheld under divine direction.
This doctrine leads us away from the vain idea of chance. We are not wounded by arrows shot at a venture–but we smart by the determinate counsel of the God of Heaven. An overruling hand is everywhere present–preventing or permitting affliction. No one shaft of disease is ever let fly by stealth, from the bow of death. It was a wise providence which selected Trophimus to be sick.
We cannot always see the hand of God in providence, but we may be always sure that it is there. If not a sparrow falls to the ground without our Father–then surely not a child of the divine family is laid low without His sacred will. Chance is a base heathenish idea, which cannot live in the presence of an everywhere present, living, and working God. Away with it from every Christian mind! It is alike dishonoring to the Lord–and grievous to ourselves!
Also, we may not think a shade the less of Trophimus because he is sick at Miletus; he is probably a far better man than any of us, and perhaps for that very reason he is more tried.
There is gold in him, which pays for putting into the crucible;
he bears such rich fruit, that he is worth pruning;
he is a diamond of so pure, that he will repay the lapidary’s toil. “
– CH Spurgeon