When people are going through a difficult time in their lives, it is very appropriate to give them sympathy. Sympathy literally means, “suffering with.” Those who are hurting are helped when others hurt with them. But, what’s even more helpful is to give them strength to work through the pain in their lives.
This is what Paul sought to do in writing a letter to Timothy. Timothy was going through a time of great pain in his life and in need of some sympathy. Rather than merely giving him sympathy, Paul sought to impart some strength to Timothy, by directing Timothy to his source of strength. “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1).