10 I was very glad in the Lord because now at last you have shown concern for me again. (Of course you were always concerned but had no way to show it.) 11 I’m not saying this because I need anything, for I have learned how to be content in any circumstance. 12 I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor. 13 I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength. 14 Still, you have done well to share my distress.
I’m not looking for you to fix my problem. I just need to vent.
I’ve said that statement, I’ve heard others say that statement. Sometimes when we’re sad or mad or anxious or whatever be the negative emotion, we want to talk about it, not so that someone can help us find the solution, but just to not have it be trapped internally. There’s something kind of beautiful in that, in truly being present and listening to someone’s distress without constantly trying to calculate the best problem solving measure. All you have to do is support them and share in whatever it is that they are experiencing.
In today’s section of Philippians, Paul the Apostle offers gratitude over being heard – over the people of Philippi hearing where he’s at (remember, he’s writing this from jail), and offering him some empathy over his circumstances. Paul seems to be a very self-aware person and someone who can find contentment wherever he is, but even so, sometimes it’s nice for someone to affirm that yeah, the situation isn’t great – you’re right. He’s not asking or even wanting probably, the people of Philippi to help him in his current situation, just to acknowledge it.
Sometimes our friends do want advice on how to fix a situation, but not always. Sometimes, we just have to be a friend.
By Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
Do you have someone you go to just to talk out how you’re feeling? Someone who would only try to problem solve if you asked them to? Have you been that person for someone else? What was that experience like?
Prayer: Caring God, you have gifted us with so many ways to love and support our neighbor. Give us patience and empathy to hear others. Amen.