How do you respond to adversity? Do you become frustrated? Do you just double down and try to muscle through it? In Acts 19 we see the apostle Paul once again respond to a difficulty. He has been set up in a synagogue in Ephesus for three months. During this time he has been boldly proclaiming the gospel. But with bold preaching comes resistance. Luke records that a significant opposition arose against his ministry. So, what does Paul do? He simply relocates down the street at another venue and resumes his public ministry. And for the next two years Paul proclaims the gospel. This gospel message not only radically transforms the community in Ephesus, but it goes out throughout the region. Luke notes that the result is that all the people throughout the land heard the Word of the Lord.
Paul’s resilience in this situation should come as no surprise to us. He has the same attitude in Philippians 1. When he is sitting in prison with detractors seeking to ruin his reputation he rejoices. He knows that God is still using these circumstances to advance the gospel. He tells Timothy that all who desire to live for Jesus will face opposition. He repeatedly writes of how difficulties are designed to refine our faith. Paul understand that adversity in this life is to be expected. But they do not mean that God’s will or purpose for our life is thwarted.
But as I examine my own reactions to trials in this life, I often do not have the same attitude as Paul. My response may be filled with frustration, doubt, anxiety, or a feeling that I have been treated unfairly. What I am learning is that these responses may indicate that I have misunderstood my purpose in life. When I think that life is about achieving my goals and dreams, I become frustrated when things do not go as I would expect them.
But Paul seems to have a different understanding of his purpose in life. In Acts 20:24 Paul writes, “but I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Paul understood that his calling in life was not about him. He knew that his purpose was to live for God, be obedient to God, and find his joy in God. So, when things did not go as planned, he was able to trust that there was a purpose in it. As a result he could face the unexpected trials and difficulties with a confident trust that God had a plan and was working all things together for his good.
So, when the difficulties come take time to reflect on your response. It may give you an indication of a purpose that needs to be realigned with God’s calling for your life. Immerse yourself in His Word and ask Him to center your mindset on His calling for your life.