A friend once told me about a missionary he knew who worked faithfully for many years in a part of the world where a deeply entrenched state religion made his work very difficult—even dangerous, sometimes. Yet he never tired of carrying out what he believed was his calling from God, no matter how difficult things got, how lonely he felt sometimes, or how far away success often seemed to be.
Once, when the missionary was asked how he felt about facing such constant opposition, he said, “Dogs only bark at things that move.” In other words, he knew if the work he was doing was not important, he would not face any opposition or difficulties. As long as he was steadily going about the business of following his divine mandate, it was inevitable that he would face complaints, threats, difficulties, and trials—sometimes, trials in a real courtroom. This story reminds me of what Paul said in one of his letters: “… a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me” (1 Corinthians 16:9). For Paul, the opportunity to do something great was accompanied by strong opposition.
It seems like facing opposition for doing good is inevitable. As the saying goes, “it doesn’t take much effort to go with the flow—even a dead fish can do it”. But when we seek important, life-changing accomplishments, we almost always find ourselves swimming against the current. The same principle holds true in the human body: If you want a muscle to get stronger and larger, you must force it to face resistance. If you want a muscle to weaken and atrophy, all you have to do is make sure it never has to do anything.