Opposition or Opportunity?
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These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.—John 16:33
As we faithfully carry out our mission of reaching the world with the message, we can expect to encounter some form of opposition along the way from time to time. Opposition and adversity are a fact of life in our active service for the Lord.
As Christians, we’re called to learn to take adversity in stride and be prepared to face the challenges it poses with an attitude of faith. This will empower us to be spiritually, mentally, and emotionally prepared to not only weather the storms, but to expect the Lord to turn even seemingly negative circumstances to our good and into opportunities to further His work. We can brave the winds of adversity with the unwavering confidence that Jesus has a purpose and plan in every difficulty that enters our lives.
Asking the Lord for His perspective on the challenges that we face, and for His guidance as to how to respond proportionately and to take action proactively enables us to take adversity and opposition in stride and channel our energy and efforts toward the solutions and the victories.
When we face adversity, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ve done something wrong or made a mistake. If we neglect to operate in prayer and counsel with others the Lord places in our lives as godly counselors, and if we fail to stay in tune with the Lord, then it could result in unwise and unprayerful decisions; we might make some mistakes and there would be lessons to be learned. But that is not always the cause of adversity. If we are prayerfully committing our lives and work to the Lord and we face opposition or confrontation from some quarter, then we are to “count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”1
Regardless of the circumstances, by faith our expectations should be that we will go through the difficulty and come out the better for the experience in one way or another—either strengthened, or wiser, or able to give a good witness, or to continue advancing despite the crisis. We can embrace the challenges that come our way and welcome the opportunities to ride the wave of adversity and come through strengthened and rise above the difficulties.—Maria Fontaine
Every great man or woman of faith, and even idealists who were not necessarily religious, faced opposition and adversity in many forms and to varying degrees throughout their lifetimes. The testament of their lives is often one of struggling through adversity, refusing to be swayed by opposition, and forging ahead to fulfill their calling and mission. They had a purpose, and they knew that the fulfillment of their purpose would not be handed to them on a silver platter. Opposition presented itself in many forms: political opposition, opposition from those protecting their financial interests, opposition from the religious powers of their day, opposition from friends and family, opposition from a hostile media, opposition from educational institutions.
Anyone who aspired to achieve anything great in this world to bring about monumental change and improvement faced enormous challenges and great opposition. Those who fought for the rights of children to receive schooling and not be in the workforce from the time they were very small faced opposition. Those who fought for racial equality faced continual opposition. Those who fought for the death of the slave trade fought the financial magnates of their day. Those who fought to make it possible for the common people to read the Bible faced opposition and persecution from the religious powers of their day. And on it goes.
Those who preach a message of salvation, faith, and truth will often stand in opposition to the world and its status quo.—Jesus, speaking in prophecy
Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” And 1 Thessalonians 5:24 says, “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” There is wonderful liberation in these promises, because focusing on what God is doing through us takes the pressure off us and puts it on Him. Our job is to step out in faith, dependent upon God, and trusting Him to accomplish His purpose in whatever He called us to do.
That doesn’t mean everything will run smoothly. Wherever the work of God is being carried out we can expect opposition, not only on the mission fields, but in our homes and communities. There will always be pitfalls and hurdles, but when Christ is our strength, the difficulties will deepen our commitment, and we not only learn from them, but in them, experience the unlimited resources of Christ. We are never called to a task without the equipping and empowerment of Christ, and that’s where our confidence lies; not in what we are doing, but in what Christ is doing through us.—Charles Price
Adversity is a severe instructor, set over us by one who knows us better than we do ourselves, as He loves us better, too. He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper. This conflict with difficulty makes us acquainted with our object and compels us to consider it in all its relations. It will not suffer us to be superficial.—Edmund Burke
Difficulties are the admission tickets to the game of life. But, at times, we cannot help suspecting that life would be much more pleasant without the hassles. Is that what you think? Before answering, ponder the following.
In a world without hurdles, there are no champions; without suffering, there are no saints; without battles, there are no victories; without rain, no rainbows. Doesn’t it appear that a world that includes pain is more rewarding than one that doesn’t? Isn’t heat necessary to produce gold, pressure and polishing necessary to produce diamonds, and adversity necessary to produce character?
Here’s how Henry Ford expressed the same sentiment: “Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. We must learn that the setbacks … which we endure help us to march onward.”—Chuck Gallozzi
Published on Anchor April 2014. Read by Tina Miles.
1 James 1:2–4 ESV.