The Bible plan I am currently following takes a selection each day, from the Old Testament, from the New Testament, from Psalms, and from Proverbs. In my reading from yesterday, in Zechariah chapter 1, God, speaking to His people through the prophet, said, “Return to me… that I may return to you…” (verse 2). “Then they repented and said, ‘Just as the Lord of armies planned to do to us in accordance with our ways and our deeds, so He has dealt with us.’” (verse 6). In hindsight, the people recognized that God had dealt with them negatively, as a result of their own disobedience. They had experienced the law of sowing and reaping. Not following God results in facing opposition. This natural law is to be expected.
In the same day’s reading, from Revelation chapter twelve, I read, “…the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with… her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” I’ll have to admit these words make me squirm a little bit. I can handle the fact that not following God results in facing opposition, but this verse makes it clear that following God results in facing opposition too. Peter, the same person who alerted us to the fact that we would face fiery trials, also wrote concerning satan’s aggressiveness toward God’s people. “…Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8).
So, if not following God results in facing opposition, and following God results in facing opposition, the logical conclusion seems to be, we can’t win for losing. Man is destined for opposition. Of course, as humans, we got ourselves into this situation through disobedience/rebellion… the fall. The good news is, opposition is not all bad! Its impact on our lives is determined, in large part, by how we view it, and what we do with it.
Our God has created a world… a universe of untold wonders. One of my favorites is trees. I am drawn to them because of their beauty, but aside from that, they have an amazing ability. They grow stronger in response to adversity. Winds cause their roots to grow deeper. Deeper roots provide the support the trees need, in order to grow taller. By God’s amazing design, winds of adversity have the potential to have a similar impact on us.
Even though I know opposition can be good for me, after reading the passages from Zechariah and Revelation, a comforting Psalm would have been nice. Instead, I got more of the same. “Rescue me, O Lord, from evil men; Preserve me from violent men Who devise evil things in their hearts; They continually stir up wars. They sharpen their tongues as a serpent; Poison of a viper is under their lips. Keep me O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; Preserve me from the violent men Who have purposed to trip up my feet. The proud have hidden a trap for me, and cords; They have spread a net by the wayside; They have set snares for me.” (verses 1-5).
As I read these verses, it occurred to me that often times the opposition we face comes to us through other people. While satan’s intention, in using this means, is to break us, God’s intention is to make us! Remember… the impact opposition has on our lives is determined, in large part, by how we view it, and what we do with it.
Joseph, the great-grandson of Abraham, had been given a dream by God. Joseph stayed true to God through the attempts of evil men (and in one case, an evil woman) to destroy him. We read repeatedly, throughout Joseph’s story, these words: “…the Lord was with Joseph…” The opposition that satan meant for evil, God meant for good. Genesis 50:20 (NKJV) reveals the good that God was working to accomplish. It was “…to save many people…” These many people included all of Joseph’s own family members! Joseph fulfilled his destiny by trusting God through the opposition. Joseph, the Old Testament patriarch, experienced first-hand what the Apostle Paul later wrote in his letter to the Romans. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NASB). Paul sums his thoughts up, three verses later, with these encouraging words: “…If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 NKJ)
In the book that bears his name James, speaking about opposition, says it this way: “…count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NKJ). Speaking through the Apostle James, God graciously reveals to us why opposition is necessary, even in the lives of His children. It is for our perfecting.
It is perfectly clear to me, that I haven’t reached that perfection yet. One of the obvious clues, among many others, is that I haven’t attained the “count it all joy” perspective. But when we examine verses like Romans 8:28 and 31, and James 1:2-4, it’s plain to see the mindset God wants us to have regarding inescapable opposition… WE CAN'T LOSE FOR WINNING!