In Any Case
I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me but had no opportunity to show it. – Philippians 4:10 (NRSVUE)
As he moves toward the closing of his letter to the church in Philippi, the apostle Paul thanks his friends there for their show of concern for his situation. Their communications by letter would have taken significant time to arrive, perhaps even following Paul from one place to another in his itinerant ministry. In modern times, telephones shortened the time of our communications. I remember receiving phone calls after my father died in 1997, using call waiting to switch from one concerned relative to another sympathetic family friend. Social media and cell phones have expanded our reachability.
Paul clearly expresses mixed feelings about receiving his friends’ concern, if you read on past verse 10. He doesn’t need their help or want them to think he can’t handle a range of conditions, challenges, and circumstances. He can do it all through Christ who strengthens him (verse 13).
My favorite line of the paragraph might be the last verse. “In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress,” says Paul. You see, I second his emotion.
Why do we resist accepting care from others? For me it might be the training I received as a young person to keep private things private. It is certainly a feature of my personality to prefer helping to being helped.
Maybe mostly I can do all things through Christ, but what about those other times? Maybe care and concern is as much a gift of the spirit when received as when given.
Strength-Giver, open me to care from others, in any case, whether I believe I need it or not. Amen.