It is fairly common for many people, both Christians and non-Christians, to believe that when something is difficult to accomplish, it must mean that some higher power is against them. For example, people may make comments like:
Christians assume that God is shutting the door to that opportunity, since every attempt to achieve the goal seems to be failing. This idea comes from verses like Revelation 3:8, where Jesus is said to close doors no one can open.
"He who is holy, he who is true, he who has the key of David, he who opens and no one can shut, and that shuts and no one opens, says these things..." (Revelation 3:8 WEB)
While this verse is specifically referring to salvation, this concept applies to other situations of opportunities in our lives. If God wants us to do something for his sake, he will open the doorway and no one can shut it. However, many times people assume this truth means it will always be easy.
Again, speaking about salvation, Jesus says, "How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it." (Matthew 7:14 WEB)
This verse implies difficulty: few find the path to life because it is narrow and restricted, and it is not uncommon for God's will for our lives to be a difficult path.
As mentioned, people assume that repeated failure must mean that God is against them, but the truth is that the only way to know for sure if God is preventing us from a particular opportunity (especially when we believe it is God's will) is when failure is no longer possible.
Again, when failure is no longer possible, we know for sure God is preventing us from an opportunity. This idea may seem odd to some, but if failure is no longer possible, then it also means success is no longer possible. If there are no more ways for you to try to achieve your goal, then God has truly shut the door.
Similarly, many Christians equate God's will with comfort. However, neither of these beliefs are biblically accurate. Sometimes the path God wishes for us to follow is uncomfortable, and sometimes the goal we are meant to achieve is difficult.
One verse that is often misunderstood regarding comfort is a passage that speaks about protection; however, in context it is speaking about spiritual protection (meaning, protection from losing our faith). "Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name..." (John 17:11 NIV)
Many translations capture the meaning of this verse by saying, "Holy Father, keep them through your name which you have given me..." (John 17:11 WEB) This verse also goes along with Jesus' comment of, "I give eternal life to them. They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." (John 10:28 WEB)
Furthermore, we can know that this verse is speaking about spiritual protection because otherwise martyrdom and enduring persecution both do not make sense if this verse is speaking of physical protection. On the contrary, the path laid out by Jesus is a difficult path, "If any man desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (Matthew 16:24 WEB)
While many Christians will never have a literal cross to carry, we are still all expected to obey God, even when it is difficult or uncomfortable to do so (Philippians 2:8).
Many people have probably heard the, possibly inaccurate, story of Thomas Edison saying, "I have not failed 1,000 times, rather I have discovered 1,000 ways not to make a light bulb." While this quote may be fictitious, the point this statement makes is still accurate. Perseverance is the key to success.
For these reasons, perseverance is important in Christianity. And it may be that when a particular goal or opportunity is repeatedly resulting in failure, it means God is teaching you perseverance. Only once failure is impossible do you know God is closing the door.
Note: Please be reminded that perseverance is actually sinful in situations involving manipulation or disrespecting others.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27 WEB)
What is love? It's a call to action. Guest post by Ben Byrum.
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