“When God closes one door, he opens another.” I dislike that saying. Usually, when it’s said, it’s in the face of disappointment when life doesn’t work out as expected, but it does little to comfort.
In this passage, Paul is in Corinth after a mob of Jews forced him to leave Berea. Paul perseveres and does what he usually does—argue with Jews in the synagogue. And as usual, they reject him. Fed up and disappointed, he storms out and goes to the nearest Gentile’s house, departing not just physically from the synagogue but also from preaching to Jews. Paul stays in Corinth though, and many Corinthians believe. A new church of mostly Gentile converts was formed.
Reading this series of events, I wonder—why did Paul preach first to the Jews? There might be a verified reason, but I only found others wondering the same thing. I think it’s because he was once one of them. He likely felt at home in the synagogue and felt a burden for Jews to be saved as he was. Prior to his conversion, Paul planned to save Jews—his people—by stopping the message of Jesus. However, God “closed the door” on Paul’s plans. Instead, God had another plan for his people, Jews and Gentiles alike, to be saved. He “opened a window.”
Nonetheless, when life is different than we expect, it can leave us feeling dejected. When God speaks to Paul in verses 9-10, it indicates that he was discouraged and afraid. However, God’s words are not an overused cliché or some feeble attempt to comfort, but words of truth.
During Lent, I think of how disappointed the group of disciples following Jesus felt when he was crucified. Their expectations of the great Messiah were definitely not met. They expected political victory over their oppressive government, not for their long-awaited champion to die a shameful death.
I’m so thankful Jesus was not the Messiah they expected. Grateful that God does not always meet my own expectations. Sure, at times I’m disappointed and hurt, just like Paul. And, as with Paul, in those moments our Father speaks words of truth, reorienting my heart to his.
Think of some of your expectations that have not been met. Think of the outcomes that happened instead. Ask our Father to speak words of true comfort and hope, and for eyes to see what he is doing instead.