I remember reading a quote many years ago that presented this thought: “While some people see problems, others see opportunities.” Naturally speaking, I have constantly been challenged to maintain a positive attitude. As I jokingly say, I used to have the ability to see a problem in every opportunity.
Thankfully, God’s Word has helped me to change my natural inclinations. I have come to see that God is extremely positive, even when I think everything around me is falling apart. God’s Word always seems to lift me to a higher level of thinking and living.
No scripture better illustrates this principle than what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 16:9 – For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. The Good News Bible says, “There is a real opportunity here for great and worthwhile work, even though there are many opponents.”
We live in a world that is filled with problems. We are exposed to daily news reports that undermine our faith and create fear and uncertainty. If we are not careful, we can allow the system of this present age to create within us a negative and apathetic attitude toward life and the things of God.
I have always enjoyed Paul’s writings, the revelation regarding the redemptive work of Christ, and the understanding of our spiritual position in Christ. I have also been amazed at Paul’s attitude regarding his challenges.
No one would argue that Paul’s life was less than comfortable or that he never encountered difficulties that tempted him to become discouraged. Yet, despite the problems, Paul seemed to have a way to focus on the opportunities presented to him.
Here are a few examples of Paul’s testimony regarding challenges that turned into opportunities:
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Problem – And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
Opportunity – And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Problem – But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me…
Opportunity – have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,
2 Timothy 2:9
Problem – for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains;
Opportunity – but the word of God is not chained.
I am not attempting to minimize Paul’s problems or the difficulties we may encounter. I am simply trying to encourage you to look beyond those problems and find opportunities that sometimes go unnoticed or that are not seen due to our preoccupation with the evil days we are living in.
It is obvious to most Christians that we live in what the Bible terms “The Last Days.” It is also evident that the Bible teaches that many adverse events and difficulties will accompany the days leading up to the Lord’s return. We can either focus on the problems associated with the times we are living in, or we can look for opportunities to advance the Kingdom of God and reach people and nations with the Gospel.
I believe the best days for the Christians and the Church are ahead of us. That does not mean there will be no challenges or difficulties. That means we choose to maintain a positive Christ-like attitude regarding the future of the Church.
The Apostle Paul said it the best in Ephesians 5:16 – “..redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” The New English Translation says, “..taking advantage of every opportunity because the days are evil.” Even though the days are evil, we are encouraged to redeem our time. Notice that Paul did not instruct these believers to hide themselves because they were living in evil times. Instead, Paul encouraged them to advantage of every opportunity for the sake of the Gospel.
Since the beginning of what we call “The Church Age,” every generation has experienced problems, challenges to their faith, opposition to the Gospel, and events that seemed to indicate the end of the world was near.
If we are one of the last generations to live on this planet before the Lord’s return, or if there are other generations to follow, let’s purpose to focus on the spiritual opportunities before us. The best days for you, every believer, and the church are still before us.
“So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest. So then, as often as we have the chance, we should do good to everyone, and especially to those who belong to our family in the faith.” Galatians 6:9-10 (GNB)
You may also be encouraged by our teaching on “An Unshakeable Kingdom”. To watch, listen to, or download the message, click here.