Just between you and me, sometimes when I read the Bible it sounds like the Apostle Paul is out of his ever-lovin’ mind. I imagine getting to heaven and saying to him, “Paul, man, some of that stuff you wrote. Whew.” Then we’d have a good laugh about it because, of course, it’s really me who needs to learn to see things differently.
For example, when I read these words the other morning I thought my Bible must have a typo or the translators had too much pizza the night before. First Corinthians 16:8-9 says, “I will stay on . . . because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”
The Holley Gerth version would read, “I’m getting out of here because there’s a lot of opposition and surely that means God has closed the door.” Anyone else with me?
But, no, Paul is looking at opposition as affirmation and confirmation. He’s where he needs to be, doing what he needs to do. It’s not a reason to give up or feel like a failure, to think he must have misheard God or be doing the wrong thing. Just the opposite: He decides this means he should carry on.
We will all get to the place where we face “opposition” in God’s will for our lives. Maybe it will come from within, the lies in our heart growing so loud that we’re tempted to listen. “You can’t do this,” they will say. “You’re not enough,” they will warn. Or perhaps the critics and naysayers and committees on the outside will do that work for us. It will be their voices we hear.
We will hang our heads and in that moment the most natural, human thing in the world to say is, “I’m walking away. I’ve clearly messed this up.”
But perhaps Jesus is whispering, “Stay . . . a great door for effective work has opened to you, and there are many who oppose you.” He understands this, after all. He faced opposition and resistance at every step.
Sometimes what looks like opposition turns out to be an opportunity.
It’s an indication that it’s time to press in, press on, and refuse to give up. It’s a message saying that we are fighting a worthwhile battle. It’s proof that we are making a difference.
If we find ourselves in the middle of blood and sweat and tears today then we can remember this doesn’t mean we’re failing; it means we’re fighting. We are fiercehearted women and the enemy of our heart knows the only way he can beat us is if he can convince us to retreat, to forfeit. If we stand firm we can’t lose. We’ll never be defeated. We won’t be overcome.
Here’s the crazy secret the Apostle Paul knew: With God we’ve already won.