Have you been discouraged recently? We face adversity everyday in some form or another. It takes the form of office politics, apathetic professors, or even seemingly well-intentioned acquaintances handing out unsolicited “advice”.
In my Bible study this morning, God lead me to a passage I had not seen before about how the apostle Paul viewed adversity which shocked me back to reality. At the conclusion of his letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells them this:
“But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.” 1 Corinthians 16:8-9
In the same breath, Paul states that a great opportunity has been opened to him AND there are many in opposition to his work! What appeared initially to be a contradiction started to make sense when I thought about it carefully.
How many times in our lives do we have a great opportunity to do something important or meaningful and discover there are many who oppose us? There are the friends and family members with good intentions who don’t want to see us take a risk and possibly fail. There are others who recognize the opportunity and want to get a piece of it for their own glory. And there are the hopefully few who truly do not want to see us succeed at something great.
This is a constant theme in our lives and especially in the ministry, where we not only contend with human opposition but spiritual opposition as well. If the people of the Tohoku region in Japan are seeking spiritual answers to their lives, doesn’t it make sense that cults and other false religions will spring up to try and take advantage of them? When the door of opportunity is opened wide enough, even the thieves will be able to get in.
But the point for you today is if you are facing adversity in your life right now, stop and look around. Perhaps the adversity is great because the opportunity for you to do something important is even greater. Paul did not shy away from opportunity simply because there were many who opposed him. He jumped right in head first and took them on. What are you being called to do?