“But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:8,9).

LIFE IN THIS WORLD IS A MIXTURE OF EASY THINGS AND HARD THINGS. All of us have to deal with both kinds of situations, the easy ones and the hard ones. But not only that, all of us have to deal with some situations that are easy and hard at the same time.

In my life, I have found it helpful to give these two things, “ease” and “difficulty,” different names. I call them “opportunity” and “opposition.” And frankly, most of the circumstances that we face in the real world are a mixture of both elements together. There are hardly any opportunities that don’t involve some difficulty, and there are hardly any difficulties that don’t involve some opportunity. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he said that he was going to remain in Ephesus for a while: “for a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” While most of us naively wish for opportunities that involve no opposition, Paul was realistic enough to know that “open doors” and “adversaries” go hand in hand. The same conditions that are favorable to the Lord’s work are those that the devil can use too.

So if we’re serious about reaching forward, we ought not to back away from difficulty and opposition. There is nothing God wants us to do that He won’t help us do, and we ought to have the courage to fight “the good fight” (2 Timothy 4:7).

But neither should we miss the opportunities that are presented by our problems. It’s good to have the courage to face our difficulties, but we can do better than just be courageous. We can see in our difficulties the productive possibilities that they offer to us.

The question is simply where we’re going to put the primary emphasis. In a situation combining both opportunity and opposition, which one of these are we going to concentrate on? We can be people who see the silver lining in every cloud or people who, when they see a silver lining, say, “There must be a cloud around here somewhere.” Optimism doesn’t mean we ignore potential difficulties or shut our ears to the warnings of the wise. It means we ask what good thing can be done . . . and then get busy doing it.

“The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; the optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty” (Lawrence Pearsall Jacks).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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