In my life there have been people who have loved me, and there have been people who have loved me so well that they actually changed my life. I think of my sister, who gave me a place to stay when I had nowhere else to go. I think of a certain college professor whose teaching made the scriptures come alive for me in a way they simply hadn’t before. I think of friends who have given words to feelings for which I lacked the vocabulary. And I think of my wife, Laurin, whose tenderness in the midst of my sometimes misguided determination keeps me sane and holds our family together.
So, I have a sense of what Paul meant when he wrote, “I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you” (Philippians 1:3). The Philippians had loved Paul well. They had shared their lives with him and given him a base of operations in Macedonia for his evangelistic work (Acts 16:15). They had supported him financially in good times and in bad (Philippians 4:14–16). And they had been partners in his mission to preach the gospel near and far (Philippians 1:5). Even in his imprisonment, their friendship had been an encouragement, bringing him joy in what was surely a time of suffering and loss.
Paul’s gratitude is directed toward the Philippians, but it is also pointed at heaven, to the “God from whom all blessings flow,” as the Doxology says, echoing Jesus’s half-brother James: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). And Paul acknowledges this truth in his thanksgiving. He knows that the gifts he has received from his friends in Philippi—as well as the Philippians themselves—have been given to him from the hand of the Father.
I thank God for bringing certain people into my life. Their impact has been so great that my mind can’t bear the thought that we crossed paths by accident. My story is being written by the Author of life itself, and these chapters were meant to be written. I didn’t see them coming. I didn’t plan them. In many cases, I didn’t even know I needed them. But God did. So I am thankful, each and every time I remember one of these who has loved me so well.
Written by John Greco