“There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me.” (1 Corinthians 16:9)
Paul wrote to the Corinthians from Ephesus, telling them his plans to visit them; he hoped to stay with them for a while. First, he had to finish his time in Ephesus, where he would remain until Pentecost. Then, he would travel through Macedonia on his way to see them. These were his plans. Paul’s plans didn’t always work out. Sometimes, God prevented him from going to a certain place. He closed a door and redirected him to another destination. This time, however, the door was “wide-open” for a great work in Ephesus.
Has God ever done that in your life? Has he ever opened a door wide for you to do much for the glory of God? The assumption in those circumstances might have been that all would go smoothly. Then, difficulties arose. People or obstacles got in the way, and you assumed you’d made a mistake. This surely can’t be God’s will; you might have thought. He opened the door after all. Doesn't that mean that it will be easy?
Paul is our witness that that isn’t true. It was God’s will for him to be in Ephesus, and there was great potential for many to come to faith in Christ. Many there, however, opposed him. Paul might have thought…Well, I guess I had better just shut this down and head on to Corinth where people love me! Is that what Paul did? No, he followed through with the plan to stay until Pentecost. Why? He knew that when God has opened a door for a great work, the enemy is also at work. The enemy will work through people to discourage us. He will do anything to prevent us from completing the task God has given us. He will do anything to prevent others from coming to faith in Christ.
Whenever God has given us an opportunity, there will always be obstacles or opposition. This is a sure sign that God is at work and that the enemy wants to destroy God’s plans. When these things happen, we persevere. We keep on keeping on until the task is done.
Paul is our example in this. In another letter to the Galatians, he said, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
Wouldn’t you like to have been there in Corinth when Paul gave them his report of the things God did in Ephesus? “In spite of all these difficulties,” he might have said, “these are the people who are now followers of Christ, and these are the people who grew in their faith. Now that I am gone, I am certain that God continues to work!”
When we get to heaven, we can thank Paul for his example to us. We can tell him how he inspired us to persevere when we faced opposition. We too were tempted to become weary, but we didn’t give up. We can tell him of the great harvest and how God continues to work!