You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run. Kenny Rogers
It’s important to understand how God uses opposition in our lives and to respond appropriately in faith. I believe that God is sovereign and that everything that happens to us is filtered through His loving hands. Opposition comes in many forms. It can be resistance that we face from people in decisions that we make or things that we undertake to do. It can be unforeseen circumstances that catch us off guard and hinder us from moving ahead with plans that we have made.
God uses opposition primarily in two ways. First, He will allow it so that we learn how to fight things through in the Spirit while claiming and defending what belongs to us. He did that with the Israelites after they settled in the promised land. He allowed enemies to remain in the land so that He could “teach warfare to generations of Israelites who had no experience in battle.” (Judges 3:1-5)
In this case it’s all about holding ‘em – standing our ground and fighting for all we are worth for our rightful inheritance. This is primarily a spiritual battle with spiritual weapons such as prayer, praise, confessions of faith, using the blood and the name of Jesus etc. If God is telling you to stand your ground, that it is a winnable battle He is calling you to fight, then you had better do just that. Conquests of faith are not for the faint-hearted. Some battles take weeks, months or even years to win. Perseverance becomes the byword, but the fight of faith is richly rewarded
Secondly, God allows opposition to force us to move on to new things. It’s like an eagle dismantling the nest so that the eaglet is forced out in order to learn how to fly on its own. In Genesis 26, after the death of his father Abraham, Isaac faced that kind of opposition from the Philistines, dramatically jarring his prosperous, comfortable lifestyle.
The inhabitants of Philistia where Isaac was living envied him and started filling up the wells on which Isaac still relied, those his father Abraham had dug years earlier. Initially Isaac repeatedly reopened the wells and gave them the same names his father had given them. But the pesky Philistines kept stopping them up again and again.
It’s been said that “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” (Albert Einstein)
When that begins to happen we need to seriously ask God if it is time to fold ‘em and walk away. That is exactly what Isaac did in this setting. He left there and took the initiative to begin digging his own wells. But twice, the Philistines came and disputed the ownership of the wells and each time Isaac chose simply to walk away again.
Finally after digging a third well, he had sufficiently distanced himself from the Philistines. He named that well Rehoboth which means “now the Lord has given us room.”
The crux of the matter in dealing with opposition comes in having the discernment to know when to hold ‘em and when to “fold ‘em. Ecclesiastes 3:8 says it a little differently but it means essentially the same thing. There is “a time for war and a time for peace.” Wisdom is found in counting the cost and determining when it is worth it to go to war or when seeking peace is the better part of valor.
My experience personally and in observing others is that most responsible, God-fearing people have a harder time folding ‘em than holding ‘em. Somehow we equate folding ‘em with giving up and a lack of faith. As a result we trap ourselves in a well-digging workhouse of own making. But in reality God is using that opposition to swing open wide the prison door and inviting us to walk away and dig some new wells of our own.
What is your perspective on opposition? What have you learned?