Marvel fans the world over were shaken when they learned about the death of Chadwick Boseman, the star of Black Panther. Death is always shocking, but Boseman’s passing was all the more gripping because nobody knew what the star had been facing.
While filming for blockbusters like 21 Bridges, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, and Marshall, Boseman was undergoing treatments for stage 3 colon cancer. He knew about trials firsthand, and shared this wisdom in a 2018 commencement address at his alma mater, Howard University:
Sometimes you need to feel the pain and sting of defeat to activate the real passion and purpose that God predestined inside of you. God says in Jeremiah, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.
Later, he continued:
… you would rather find purpose than a job or career. Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember, the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.
Then he concludes:
When God has something for you, it doesn’t matter who stands against it. God will move someone that’s holding you back away from the door and put someone there who will open it for you if it’s meant for you. I don’t know what your future is, but if you are willing to take the harder way, the more complicated one, the one with more failures at first than successes, the one that has ultimately proven to have more meaning, more victory, more glory then you will not regret it.
1 Corinthians closes with ways to see God’s ongoing work your life.
Here, Paul tells us the attitudes of a growing Christian.
We need to have an Attitude of Expectancy
1 Corinthians 16:4, 5-9
And if it seems appropriate for me to go along, they can travel with me.
Paul’s Final Instructions
5 I am coming to visit you after I have been to Macedonia, for I am planning to travel through Macedonia.
There is always a need to keep in touch with God’s people, strengthening and building them up. This was the constant beat of Paul’s heart.
6 Perhaps I will stay awhile with you, possibly all winter, and then you can send me on my way to my next destination. 7 This time I don’t want to make just a short visit and then go right on. I want to come and stay awhile, if the Lord will let me. 8 In the meantime, I will be staying here at Ephesus until the Festival of Pentecost. 9 There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me.
Sometimes expectations push us, making us grow in ways we wouldn’t otherwise. You can’t just automatically say no. Say “YES!” to God! Maybe God is opening a door for you to do something significant for Him and His Kingdom.
3 Key Phrases in 1 Corinthians 16:8-9:
1. “A Wide-Open Door“
When Paul saw an open door for a great ministry work, he went through it.
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”Helen Keller
Maybe you’ve been knocking at some closed doors. They aren’t opening. Perhaps you should look to see where doors are opening instead.
Paul was wise enough to look and see where God was moving and working.
We shouldn’t pray, “God help me do what I want to do.” But, “God help me see where you’re at work so I can join you. “
I’m not saying leave if it’s hard. But sometimes, you need to make a change and not be so stubborn.
Sometimes, you move to an open door and the door shuts in your face. That’s actually good. God didn’t want you to go through it.
2. “I will be staying“
This was an opportunity for Paul to stay put and to keep his commitments. Some people are always looking for what’s next. The next big thing. The hottest, coolest opportunity. But sometimes, you have to stay long enough for God to work in that situation.
Imagine you have two women of the same age, the same socioeconomic status, the same educational level, and even the same temperament. You hire both of them and say to each, “You are part of an assembly line, and I want you to put part A into slot B and then hand what you have assembled to someone else. I want you to do that over and over for eight hours a day.” You put them in identical rooms with identical lighting, temperature, and ventilation. You give them the very same number of breaks in a day. It is very boring work. Their conditions are the same in every way—except for one difference. You tell the first woman that at the end of the year you will pay her thirty thousand dollars, and you tell the second woman that at the end of the year you will pay her thirty million.
After a couple of weeks, the first woman will be saying, “Isn’t this tedious? Isn’t it driving you insane? Aren’t you thinking about quitting?” And the second woman will say. “No. This is perfectly acceptable. In fact, I whistle while I work.” What is going on? You have two human beings who are experiencing identical circumstances in radically different ways. What makes the difference? It is their expectation of the future. This illustration is not intended to say that all we need is a good income. It does, however, show that what we believe about our future completely controls how we are experiencing our present. We are irreducibly hope-based creatures.
3. “Many will oppose“
Not everyone was on board with what Paul was doing. Not everyone approved. There are always obstacles when you’re doing what God wants you to do.
Paul wanted to remain in Ephesus temporarily because a great door for effective work had opened for him. In other words, Paul saw that his efforts in Ephesus were succeeding. He recognized his success as an indication that he should continue to work in Ephesus.
Beyond this, Paul also saw resistance from the world as an indication that he should stay for a while. From his point of view, believers involved in godly ministry will suffer persecution from the world (2 Tim. 3:12). Jesus taught this as well (John 15:18–20). So Paul stayed in Ephesus because there were many who oppose[d] him. In this, the apostle demonstrated great sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s work. He also showed himself to be flexible, ready to change his plans as the Lord directed him.
When you step out for Jesus, you become a target.
Even Jesus had adversaries.
The devil doesn’t want you to go through those doors. He will do whatever he can to keep you from staying committed to God and following Him through open doors.
An Open Mindset
Researcher Carol Dweck did a series of studies on how people handle adversity, particularly when they face limitations, obstacles, failure, and change. In one study, she took a group of ten-year-olds and gave them increasingly difficult math problems to see how they would handle failure. Most students got discouraged and depressed, but a few had a totally different response. One kid—in the face of failure—rubbed his hands together, smacked his lips, and said, “I love a challenge!” Another kid, failing one math problem after another, said, “You know, I was hoping this would be informative.”
“What’s wrong with them?” she wondered. “I always thought you coped with failure or you didn’t cope with failure. I never thought anyone loved failure. Were these alien children or were they on to something?”
She realized that not only were these kids not discouraged by failure, they didn’t think they were failing. They thought they were learning. She came to the conclusion that human beings have two different, almost opposite mind-sets about life. One of them I’m going to call a “closed mind-set.” Those with a closed mind-set believe that life is full of a fixed amount of gifts and talents, and their worth depends on how talented they are. Therefore, their job is to convince others that they’ve got “it,” whatever “it” is.
Dweck said there’s another way to go through life—the open mind-set. These people believe that growth is always possible. A commitment to growth means that they embrace challenge. … Therefore, failure is indispensable and something to learn from.
Questions to Consider
There’s a faith factor at work.
Are you living, expecting God to do great things, through you?
Will I stay put even though it’s hard?
How about your marriage? God wants you to remain faithful.
Will I allow opposition to keep me from staying faithful to God?
What about going to church? Are you expectant? That God will show up? That He has something for you? That He will move in people’s lives?
When you invite someone to church with you, you will be even more expectant. It changes the way you see the whole experience.
God wants us to live with big faith. To have Great Expectations, believing God is at work and to trust that He has good ahead for you!