Isaac discovered that opposition and envy were obstacles to his growth, and even the wells his servants dug which had fresh water did not lead to a trouble-free life: Esek and Sitnah were wells which simply brought fresh disputes with them. (Esek means ‘dispute’ and Sitnah means ‘opposition’.) (Gen 26:17-22) Because of this, however, he moved on to pastures new, and ended up at Beersheba, a place of great spiritual significance for Abraham and a place where God revealed Himself afresh to Isaac.
Somewhat to our surprise, we discover that opposition and even persecution can be God’s way of leading us on. The disciples would probably never have left Jerusalem if it hadn’t been for the persecution which scattered them far and wide. They had heard Jesus say that they were to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). They had heard the Great Commission to go into all the world and make disciples of all the nations. (Matt 28:18-20) But it was not until the death of Stephen and they were scattered through persecution throughout Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1) that Christianity became more than a local dispute and actually became a missionary movement. We need to understand that God is leading us, even when it doesn’t feel like it. God is with us, even if we’re facing persecution and opposition. Even when things aren’t going our way and we may feel like God is a million miles away, He is still there, leading us on. Moses declared, ‘In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.’ (Ex 15:13) We too can know that God is guiding us, even if we are having to face disputes and opposition which would seek to wear us down and leave us discouraged. God will never leave us or forsake us, even if life is tough.
We often believe that if there were no opposition in our lives and we could navigate still waters all the time, we would be happier and more successful. I’m not convinced this is the truth. God uses trials and problems to shape us and refine us. What we need to remember is He is always with us, no matter what.