Thanks-Living: Opposition our Opportunity

Thanks-Living: Opposition our Opportunity

One word – empty.

The walk to our car was long, dark and quiet. Not a word muttered between my husband and me. Deep sadness dug its trench in the pit of our souls. Our hearts were overwhelmed with this unfamiliar, unforeseen experience. Our hands – empty.

Three times before, it had been a right of passage. Whisked by a wheel chair out of our safe domain to take our new adventure home. Decked out with balloons, adorned with flowers of celebration. My lap, typically, weighed down by an oversized car-seat filled with bundles of blankets and a tiny cherub.

But this time all my hands held was my husband’s. No entourage. No balloons. No baby.

We were discharged from the hospital and had to leave our precious baby girl behind. Of course, it was for her best. She couldn’t breathe on her own. But my empty womb and empty hands threw my heart into crisis. And this opposition seemed more than this mama could overcome.

Opposition.

“Resistance or dissent, expressed in action or argument” (Google).

“Hostile or contrary action or condition” (Merriam-Webster).

Normally, we think of being opposed by some-one, but what about some-thing. Life.

In life, we experience opposition to our norm, our routine. Opposition to our expectations and prior experiences. Opposition in our marriages and from our kids. Opposition from our past and opposition to our futures. Opposition from within and opposition from without. “Here on earth we will have many trials and sorrows” (John 16:33 NIV).

Opposition. It’s a given.

But. There’s a big “BUT.” (Sorry I can’t help but laugh a little, I did grow up in the 90’s listening to the radio.)

BUT opposition can compel us to greater levels of joy and thanks-living than we would ever experience without it.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-4 NLT).

Opposition becomes our opportunity.

In all honesty, I had never really liked this passage. Who wants to welcome junk with joy? I mean come on. Really?!?

But then something started to change. Back to that big “BUT.” 😉

When I was finally wheeled out of the hospital with my little girl, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving day, I noticed my experience of gratitude was way deeper, wider, higher and longer than I had experienced ever before. And I began to notice a pattern in my life. Those people, situations, relationships, and realities in my life I had to fight for, wait for, pray for, work for? The waiting, wanting and desperately working only made me more grateful when they came to pass.

Opposition became my opportunity to grow in thanks-living.

Here is how I think it works. In my last post, we looked at the obstacle of unbelief in experiencing thanks-living. I’d recommend reading Thanks-Living: More than a Meal to understand where this post picks up.  And as we are continuing the discussion, we are tackling the question, “What are our opportunities for thanks-living?”

I believe opposition is one of those opportunities. Opposition often works out our bi-polar struggles with unbelief and belief, to wield gut-wrenching convictions. Opposition becomes an opportunity for the Lord to show us who He is and what we mean to Him. It is His opportunity to take those things we think are true of Him and His Word and forge our convictions.

Now I want to be cautious because many, if not all, of us are still in the limbo of waiting, wanting and working for some desire or dream God has placed on our heart. Or sadly weary and wounded from a past experience. But here is the hope we can focus on…

When opposition pushes our fervor for God into the fire

Our faith, in a faithful God, is being forged

I am preaching to myself here friends. Just the other day, that car situation that has had me in knots (the one I mentioned in my last post) led me to fear which led me to tears. But more quickly than normal God’s Spirit calmed me down. Couple that with a dear friend who cried out for me in prayer for His provision, I am reassured that God will provide a way. “Erin, I truly believe this is going to be a huge part of your testimony,” encouraged my friend. Opposition was testing my fervor for God. But thru prayer and community, I sense my faith in Him is begin forged.

Now we all know people that “when the rubber met the road,” they ran the other way. It is a matter of our perspective and our focus. So how can we let opposition provide an opportunity for thanks-living?

  • Incline our hearts to hunt for the majestic person of God. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hand. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge” (Psalm 19:1-2 NIV).
  • Set our minds on bold belief while inviting help when we struggle.I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24 NIV).
  • Will our souls to let it’s wounds benefit another. “We will never come to embrace the heartache of our story until we see it profit another human being. Even then the sorrow doesn’t leave, but seeing someone benefit from our pain adds hope to that pain, and our gratitude begins to transform our past” (Dan Allender, To Be Told, 180).
  • Paste our eyes on the transformative power of our problems. Our passage from James 1:2-4 of course and as Dan Allender puts it, “An absence of gratitude with regard to our present compels us to change it rather than be transformed by it” (Allender 123).
  • Slow our feet to experience a rhythm of rest. Rest is a gift from God to care for our souls (Exodus 16:29). Choose to open it!
  • Position our hands to cling to God and not ourselves. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:3-4 NLT).

Let’s choose one. Try it out. And see how our focus can forge our faith in the person, presence and promises of God. Let’s overcome our obstacles one by one. Tilling the joy, peace, healing, faith, trust, love and hope found in these opportunities.

Before we wrap up, take one more look at our passage in James. Did you notice verse 4 ends with “you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing”? “Needing nothing” in the NIV is translated as “lacking nothing.”

When we let opposition birth joy, bring conviction and bolster our faith – we will lack nothing.

What begins as emptiness can grow into fullness. What starts as opposition can become an opportunity to flourish in thanks-living. As I celebrate my daughter’s third birthday TODAY! This mama went from being overwhelmed by opposition to becoming overcome with gratitude.

Happy Birthday, Ella! Your birth was a significant event that help mommy move toward experiencing thanks-living. Now, thanks to the influence of your three big brothers, let’s go play army with your delicate dollies. 🙂

Father, we trust You. We trust Your goodness. We trust Your love. We trust Your provision. And when it is difficult for our hearts to live out of that trust, we proclaim it all the more loudly. My prayer is that we would see our opposition as an opportunity. Grow us. May we may glean joy and gratitude even in moments that feel empty. Be especially near and sweet to those struggling with the wait, the want and the work of our faith. You are a good, good Father. And we trust in You. Amen.

Next Week: Thanks-Living: The Real Wonder Women

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About Erin Nicole Thompson

Erin Nicole Thompson is a fun-loving and authentic momma to 4 littles, wife of a ruggedly handsome Pastor, and as she likes to think, the CEO of her home operations. She delights in worship, cooking with good music, the sweet faces of her sleeping children, adult conversations, and some quiet time at Starbucks. She loves to serve alongside, encourage, and equip young and seasoned women. Erin is grateful to be part of what God is doing at The Chapel, a multi-campus church in Northern Chicago-land where her husband, Dave, pastors the Lake Zurich Campus. Presently, she lives to dream and follow God as he writes her story.