I think many people assume that if they’re doing God’s will, being obedient, and listening to His voice, then everything in life will be easy. If I run into difficulties then it’s a sign that it isn’t God’s will for me. If I’m not making quick progress but rather running into road blocks then maybe God hasn’t opened the door, right?
Then I read “For a great and effective door has opened for me, and there are many adversaries.” 1 Corinthians 16:9. God opened the door for Paul, a great and effective door! But then there was many adversaries. How could God open a door and leave us with adversaries and enemies?
At the end of Judges 2 and the start of Judges 3 we can read how God left enemies that Joshua did not conquer so that Israel could learn war, so that they knew how to fight against their enemy. God does not want His children to be to be ignorant and weak. We only learn how to walk in victory after we face a battle. Unlike the time of Judges, our battle is a spiritual battle and God needs us to know how to win. The battle is won by His Spirit (Zechariah 4:6) and by His strength (Ephesians 6:10), we need to know what that means and what that looks like.
Paul makes it clear to us that the greatest, most effective doors that are opened have the most adversaries. The greatest opportunities often come with the most opposition. The enemy doesn’t waste his time defending what is useless. The enemy is only concerned about the great things we are doing for God, he doesn’t care about the insignificant things we do. You will find a lot more security at the bank and jewelry store compared to the 99 cent store because only valuable things are worth being guarded. I think it’s safe to say that if you are facing opposition and resistance then you’re on the right track.
When Jesus left Earth and sent His Holy Spirit, He sent us the Helper and Comforter. It’s clear that Jesus intends for us to be on a path that requires help and comfort. The things that God wants us to do are often difficult and uncomfortable. God actually wants us to live in a place where we can never succeed on our own. If we live a comfortable life and don’t need God’s help then our relationship with Him is nearly pointless. God wants us to do great things far above our own qualifications and ability. We need to walk with God and rely on Him every day.
Paul did not turn around when he noticed how many adversaries he was about to face. He knew that that was exactly where God was calling him and that he could defeat his enemies because God was with him. Paul did not look for another door because he knew it would not be nearly as great or effective. Jesus said that He will build His Church and the gates, or the power, of hell will not prevail, or over power. (Matthew 16:18). Notice that Jesus said the gates of hell will lie down and allow it. Jesus didn’t say that He would build His Church and the enemy would take a nap. Jesus did say that there are powers working against the Church and that they would not win. Paul recognized and knew there was an enemy with real power going against him, Paul also knew that the enemy would not overpower him.
Right now if you are experiencing adversaries, if the enemy is coming at you full force, know that you will overcome him by the power of God. We defeat the devil by using the Word of God. If you are not experiencing any difficulties and free from any spiritual battles I would take a moment and think of why that might be. Do you need to pray with greater boldness? Have you walked away from the great effective door in favor of the easy convenient door? Are you actively taking ground, making disciples, and doing everything that God has called you to do?