It's interesting in that it comes between verses 8 and 9, and verse 11.
Tens tend to do that, you know, come between nines and elevens...
Philippians 4:8 and 9 are a couple of very powerful, beautiful verses.
"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true,
whatever thing are noble,
whatever things are just, whatever things are pure,
whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report,
if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -
meditate on these things.
The things which you learned and received
and heard and saw in me,
these do, and the God of peace will be with you."
You know those verses, right? Good stuff.
And how about verse 11:
"Not that I speak in regard to need,
for I have learned in whatever state I am,
to be content..."
Another verse we should all have memorized. And put into practice.
But in between is verse 10, and it's a favorite of mine.
"But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now
at last your care for me has flourished again;
though you surely did care,
but you lacked opportunity."
Paul was simply thanking the church at Philippi for monetary gifts they had given him in the past, and acknowledging that there had been a season in which they had not been able to financially support him in his ministry.
But the words that stood out to me, years ago, were: "you lacked opportunity". It reassured me that there are, indeed, times when we simply are not in a position to show compassion or support to someone the way we wish we could. That's not to say there's not any way to care for someone, just maybe not the way we wish we could. And it impressed upon me the urgency ~ the obligation, almost ~ to take advantage of the opportunities when they come.
I thought about this verse recently, when I read an article about a doctor named D. Holmes Morton, living in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, where he runs a clinic called the "Clinic for Special Children".
Years ago, Dr Morton was asked by a friend at a Children's Hospital in Philadelphia to look at the case of a young Amish boy who had been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Dr Morton realized that diagnosis was incorrect, and helped develop a test that would identify the affliction, called GA-1, in younger children, who would then be treatable.
The Amish and Mennonites are afflicted by a high incidence of hereditary diseases, many of which are fatal. But if they are caught early, they can be treated. So Dr Morton and a colleague visited families, collecting urine and blood samples, and identifying and then treating several people with the genetic makeup that would lead to some of these diseases.
Though the Amish have no hesitation trusting doctors and hospitals to help their children, Dr Morton believed that the best way to study and care for these children is where they live, so he opened his clinic near them. It was built in 1990, in one day, by dozens of Amish and Mennonite carpenters, farmers and construction experts.
Dr Morton has not only the necessary expertise in medicine and genetics, but an interest in, and compassion for, children in rural communities. And he respects their lifestyle. I don't know that there are a lot of people who don't respect the lifestyle choices of the Amish or Mennonite communities, but sometimes being different is hard. He says he was "deeply affected" by the Amish belief that disabled children are "sent by God to teach us how to love." And in turn, Dr Morton and his team have earned this community's appreciation for his work, his sensitivity, and his passion.
He saw an opportunity. He had the ability, he had the knowledge, and he made this calling his life's work, because he had both opportunity and compassion. What a difference we can make, when God gives us the opportunity.