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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Joel Osteen » Joel Osteen - Invite God Into the Difficulty - (Stronger Than You Think)

Joel Osteen - Invite God Into the Difficulty - (Stronger Than You Think)

Joel Osteen - Invite God Into the Difficulty - (Stronger Than You Think)
TOPICS: Joel Osteen: You Are Stronger Than You Think, Hard times, Adversity, Encouragement, Strength

Most of the time when we're facing a difficulty, we're praying, "God, get me out of this challenge. Get me out of this trouble at work. Get me out of this financial setback. Get me out of this sickness". There's nothing wrong with that, but before you get out, you have to invite God in. Sometimes, the miracle is not in getting out; it's in what God is going to do in the situation. Sometimes, God will bring you out; other times, he comes in and begins to change things. It's very powerful. He comes in and gives you favor, despite who's trying to push you down. He comes in and gives you strength that you can't explain. He comes in and gives you the grace to outlast what should stop you.

Why does he meet you in the middle of your difficulty? Because he knows that you're stronger than you think. If you're only focused on God bringing you out, you're going to be frustrated because God doesn't do things on our timetable. Sometimes, it takes longer than we think. When you ask God to come in, you can be at rest. "God, I know you're right here with me, you're ordering my steps. Nothing can snatch me out of your hands". You don't have to have those sleepless nights, days of frustrations. That's what happens when you're only focused on getting out. When you ask God to come in, you're saying, "God, don't just change the situation; change me. Help me to learn, help me to develop greater confidence, increase my faith. Let my character come up higher".

If God delivered you out of everything instantly, you would never reach your potential. God is working in the trouble. He's working in the situation that's uncomfortable. God is setting you up to show himself strong in your life. When he brings you out, people won't be able to deny the favor that's on your life. God said through the prophet Isaiah, "When you go through the waters, I will be with you. When you go through the rivers, you will not be overwhelmed. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned". It's interesting, he didn't say, "I'll keep you out of every fire. You won't have to face any famines". He said, "These challenges are going to come". There will be adversities, things we don't understand. But the whole key to this verse is when he says, "I will be with you in the flood, in the fire, in the famine".

Are you trying to get out of something that God is going to take you through? Are you fighting the process, wondering why it happened? "God, I can't take this anymore". Remember this, you are stronger than you think. The book of Daniel, three Hebrew teenagers wouldn't bow down to worship King Nebuchadnezzar's golden idol. The king was so furious that he threatened to throw them into a fiery furnace. The teenagers said, "King, we're not worried because we know our God will deliver us". This made the king even angrier. He had the guards heat up the fire seven times hotter than normal. The fire would have killed anyone at the regular temperature.

Why did God have the king heat it seven times hotter? So it would be a bigger miracle. God wanted the odds to be against them in even a greater way. The fact is, God could have kept them out of the fire. He's God. He parted the Red Seas, he opened blind eyes. Wouldn't have been any problem for him to change the king's mind, have the teenagers escape, to send a big earthquake like he did with Paul and Silas and opened the prison doors. But God doesn't deliver us from every fire. Sometimes, he'll take you through the fire. The good news is he knows how to make you fireproof.

People don't determine your destiny. Bad breaks can't stop God's plan for your life. Sicknesses, addictions, unfair situations, they don't have the final say. Don't get discouraged because God didn't keep you out of the fire. God doesn't stop every negative situation. He uses these adversities to move us into our destiny. We won't know his power if we were never thrown into a fire. You wouldn't know he was a healer if you'd never faced an illness. You won't know that he can move mountains if you didn't face a big obstacle. Quit complaining about what you're up against. It's not a surprise to God. The opposition may have turned up the heat seven times hotter than normal, but they didn't do that without God's permission. You and God are a majority. He's a supernatural God. He's not limited by fires, by floods, by famines. What should take you out, can't defeat you. What should overwhelm you, cannot stop your destiny.

Instead of fighting these things that aren't fair, things that you don't like, you have to realize that God allowed them. I'm not saying that he sent them, but he allowed them because he has a purpose, and the purpose is not so you'll be miserable and live frustrated, worried. The purpose is so he can show his glory through you, so other people can see his power and favor on your life. Without great tests, you won't have a great testimony. Without big battles, you won't have big victories.

The three Hebrew teenagers said to Nebuchadnezzar, "We know our God will deliver us". They made that statement of faith. Then they said something even more powerful: "But even if he doesn't, we're still not going to bow down". That's the kind of people that give the enemy a nervous breakdown. It's when you can say, "God, this is what I'm believing for. This is what I'm hoping will happen, but even if it doesn't work out my way, I'm still going to give you praise. I'm still going to be good to others. I'm still going to pursue my dreams". That kind of attitude gets God's attention. You're saying, "God, not my will, but let your will be done".

King Nebuchadnezzar had the guards tie the teenagers' hands and feet with cords. When they threw them into the furnace, it was so hot the guards were instantly killed. It looked as though it was the end for these teenagers. But nothing can snatch you out of God's hands. If it's not your time to go, you're not going to go. In a little while, the king came to check on them. He looked into the mouth of the furnace, said, "Didn't we throw three men into the fire? I see four men loosed. One looks like the Son of God".

God may not deliver you from the fire. Don't worry, he'll come in the fire with you. He'll help you overcome what looks impossible. The Scripture says God is a very present help in times of trouble. We know that God is always with us, but when you're in difficulties, if you invite him in, you'll feel his presence in a greater way. You'll be aware that you're not alone. You won't live frustrated because you were thrown into a fire. You'll stay in peace, knowing that the fourth man is right there with you, the God that controls the fire, the God that speaks to storms, the God who restores, who heals, who pays you back for the injustice, is watching over you, protecting you, ordering your steps.

Joel Osteen: In 1981, Paul, I remember when you called me and you said that Mother was sick. You were in medical school and I said, "Paul, what do you mean, she's sick? She got a cold, she's got the 'flu, something like that"? And you said, I remember your words. You said, "No, she's really sick". It didn't look good for Mother. She was 48 years old.

Paul Osteen: Exactly. You know, Joel, I remember I wept when I heard the diagnosis because they told me that they had biopsied Mama's liver and there were multiple lesions in her liver and all of them had adenocarcinoma. Even as a fourth year medical student, I knew enough to know that she probably had, at the most, six to nine months to live and there was no treatment available at that time. So it was a devastating diagnosis.

Joel Osteen: Yeah, you know, Mom, it's like the three Hebrew teenagers. You found yourself in the middle of a fire, after being healthy all these years. And we talk about how... invite God into that difficulty, and that's what we saw you do. You fought the good fight of faith.

Dodie Osteen: Well, I did, and it wasn't easy sometime. But you know what? I'm glad I was acquainted with the Word of God because people perish if they don't know the Word of God sometime, and Daddy and I had been in a denominational church and we didn't know until he began to seek God and found out that Jesus does heal. We found out knowledge about the Word of God. But anyway, it was devastating. It was right at Christmastime and I had no idea I was that sick, and to find out that I had a few weeks to live, a few weeks at the most to live, was just bad. It was like I was in the fire like the three Hebrew children. But you know what? I just sought God. I did everything that I knew to do. I got a list of Scriptures. I'd read them every day, and I will never leave the house without reading them unless something happens that maybe Jesus comes. I probably won't read them that day if he decides to come in my sleep. But, anyway, it happened, see, he brought them out, the children of Israel, with silver and gold, and there were no feeble ones among them. And I read that every day because one day when Daddy and the day that I got out of the hospital, the next day, we got down on the floor in front of the bed and he had his Bible open there, and it flipped over, just flipped over like an angel was there and just flipped it over, and it was that Scripture: "And there will be no feeble ones among them". So I just fought the good fight of faith and asked Jesus to heal me, and I remember Daddy praying: "Father, I need her. You need her, Jesus. The children needs her, and the church needs her". And I'm telling you, I never will forget those words, and he stood with me. I put pictures up on the wall, on the refrigerator, of me in my wedding dress. I said, "God, give me another 25 years at least," and I'm telling you, when 25 years was up, I changed that story real quick. I said, "Jesus, let's have another 15 like Hezekiah and maybe more than that". So Jesus helped me. It was so amazing, my...

Lisa Osteen Comes: I will never forget how our father set the tone and the atmosphere for that situation and in our house, and he said to the doctor, he said, "Well, we believe in miracles," and the doctor said, "Well, you're going to have to have a miracle". And Daddy just said, "I believe we're going to get that miracle," and so from the day he said that, we believed that we would get a miracle, and I would see Mama sick. She was 81 pounds. She was jaundiced. She didn't look well. But I just believed that in the name of Jesus, and by the stripes of Jesus, she would be healed, because that's what was spoken and that's what we were taught because our parents had set the tone of our home for miracles, healings, faith, hope, victory, and joy. And I'll never forget that.

Joel Osteen: That's so good.

Victoria Osteen: But I love the fact you were not completely strong in your body, but you stepped out in faith and you began to pray for people.

Dodie Osteen: I think I probably decided immediately because I had people praying for me and I knew I had to pray for them. It was just natural for me to call people and pray for them over the phone. It still is, you know, and because of the pandemic I've had Zoom services now.

Lisa Osteen Comes: Mama, you just decided to get up and go about your day as a normal day, even though you felt like staying in bed.

Dodie Osteen: Yes, I did.

Lisa Osteen Comes: And one of the things you continued to do was to go to church, and you would pray for the sick and pray for the people, and you didn't stop that. You decided, "I'm going to keep praying for the sick". It was like the sick praying for the sick, but it doesn't matter because we don't have to have it all together to minister to other people, to help other people, and that's what you did. And it is exactly what the Scripture says, that as you pray for others, your healing will spring forth. And so, as you did that, it's like you kept getting better and better and better, until you were completely healed.

Joel Osteen: You know, it's important too, Mama, you didn't get healed overnight. It wasn't an instant thing. You fought the good fight of faith and it's easy to say, "Well, look, I got this bad diagnosis, I'm done". I think, you know, some of the saints, they died in faith. I'd rather die in faith than die bitter and, you know, I know not everybody gets a miracle like happened for Mama, but, you know, some people do. But I think the key is, is let's release our faith and believe for it and not just give up and say, "Well, the dream's too big, or the addiction's too big, or..". I think that's when you have to just, you fight that good fight of faith in the middle of the difficulty. "God, come in. Do what you can do. I know you can bring me out".

Lisa Osteen Comes: That's right.

Paul Osteen: Joel, just clinically, from a physician's standpoint, people that have hope, people that have peace, people that have faith, people that have joy in their lives, they just do better, and I love the fact that Mama put those pictures up so she didn't see herself as... when she looked in the mirror, she didn't see herself as sick. She saw herself on a horse in Montana or... I think those things are so important for people that are fighting battles in their health, to realize, you know, joy is important. Peace is important. Hope is important. Seeing yourself well is important.

Joel Osteen: That's so good.

Lisa Osteen Comes: Yeah, and you know, but when you don't give up, you grow in God, you learn his Word like never before, you learn to pray like you never learned to pray. But you're going to come out in a whole new level of knowing God and an authority over the enemy and an authority as a believer.

The book of Genesis begins by telling how God created everything. It's interesting that it says: "The evening and the morning were the first day". You would think it would be the reverse, that the morning and the evening were the first day. But God starts the day in the dark. At 12 a.m., nothing looks any different. If you didn't have a watch, you wouldn't know that you've entered a new day. Still dark outside, looks the same as it did at 9 o'clock, 10 o'clock, 11 o'clock. There's no sign that something has changed. But when the clock strikes midnight, in that one second, with nothing looking any different, it goes from p.m. to a.m. It's still dark, but it's a new day. It would make more sense if the day started when the sun came up, 6 or 7 in the morning, when the dawn breaks, the light comes, it's obvious that it's a new day. We can see it. Things have changed.

We hear the birds begin to chirp, the sun comes over the horizon. We have all this evidence that we've entered a new day. But God chose to start the day in the dark on purpose. It's symbolic of how he does things in our lives. He gives us the promise that says we've come into a new day, that he's restoring health to us, that we're going to lend and not borrow, that our child is going to get back on course. We believe, we pray, we stand on the promise, but nothing looks any different. The Psalmist said the moment you pray, "the tide of the battle turns". That means that when you say, "Amen," it's a new day. You may not see any sign of it. That's okay, because victory begins in the dark. When you realize that God starts with darkness to bring about new things in your life, you won't get discouraged. You'll thank him in the midst of the darkness. You'll praise him despite what's trying to stop you.

This is what the apostle Paul and Silas did in Acts 16. They'd been put in prison for sharing their faith in the city of Philippi. They were bound in the deepest part of the dungeon to make sure they couldn't escape. Paul and Silas had their feet securely chained in wooden stocks, guards standing outside the prison doors. It looked as though they would be put away, we'd never hear from them again. All the odds were against them, but people don't have the final say. There's not an obstacle that God can't move. There's not a sickness he can't heal, an addiction he can't free you from. Sitting in the dungeon, having been falsely accused, beaten with rods, Paul and Silas could have been depressed. They could have said, "God, this isn't fair. Why did this happen? We were doing what you wanted us to do". But the Scripture says: "At midnight, they were praying and singing praises, giving thanks to God".

It's interesting that we're told what time this happened. We're not given the time of most other miracles we read about in the Scripture. But God had the writer tell us the time here because midnight means it was a new day. As Paul and Silas were singing praises, suddenly there was a great earthquake. The prison doors flew open, the chains fell off their feet, they walked out as free men. There may be a period of darkness when it doesn't look like anything is happening, but if you'll do like them, and just keep thanking God that he's fighting your thanking thanking him that he's making a way where you don't see a way, then you're going to come into these times where God will suddenly show out in your life. He'll make things happen that you couldn't make happen. Keep that song of praise in your heart.

In the Scripture, Job went through a dark time. Everything was going great, life was good. Then the bottom fell out. Lost his health, his family, his business. Didn't seem fair. The Scripture says Job was the most righteous man of his day. In fact, God said to Satan, "Have you seen my servant Job? There's no one like him in all the land. He's blameless, he's a man of integrity. He has a spirit of excellence". I love the fact that God was bragging on Job. If you could hear what God is saying about you, you'd be amazed. We think God is focused on all of our faults, our shortcomings, but God sees all the good things in you. He sees your heart to help others. He sees your sincerity, your kindness, your courage. I can hear him telling the angels, "Have you seen my son Jim? He's really amazing. Have you seen my daughter Rachel? There's no one like her".

God is proud of you. He made you in his own image. He calls you a masterpiece. Just because you're having difficulty, doesn't mean you've done something wrong. We all go through test and seasons that we don't understand. What I want you to see is that the darkness is not permanent. At some point, you're going to go from p.m. to a.m. God is going to shift things. You're going to come out promoted, increased, at a new level of your destiny. When Job lost everything, yes, he was discouraged. He sat down among the ashes, he put on sackcloth. He went through phases of being upset, bitter, confused, frustrated. Eventually, he got up and stepped up out of the ashes. Was still dark, nothing had changed, but he said, "I know that God has granted me favor". He was saying, "I know I've entered a new day. I know this darkness is not permanent".

A few chapters later, still in the middle of the difficulty, still as dark as ever, with nothing having changed, Job said, "I know my redeemer lives". He was saying, "God is still on the throne. Not going to drag around sour over what I've lost. I'm getting ready for the new things that God has in store". In chapter 8 of the book of Job, a friend came along to encourage him. He said, "Job, God will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy". He was saying to Job what God is saying to you: Don't let a dark season fool you. Don't let a pandemic, don't let a sickness, don't let a breakup, cause you to live defeated. You're going to laugh again. You're going to love again. You're going to dream again. You're going to build again, you're going to lead again, you're going to flourish again. You are stronger than you've been. And Job went through the dark season but that's not where he ended.

The Scripture says God restored back to Job twice what he had before. He was more blessed in the second part of his life than he was in the first, and yes it was dark, but when the sun rose he came out with double. Don't believe the lies that the darkness is permanent, that it's never going to change. The darkness is a sign that double is coming. The sun is going to rise in your life again. You're going to see the goodness of God in ways you've never seen. He's breathing in your direction right now. In the unseen realm, things are changing in your favor. Forces of darkness are being pushed back. The right breaks are headed your way. He's going to make things happen that you couldn't make happen on your own, and you and everyone around you will know it was the hand of God.

Whatever you're dealing with today, it's not going to last as long as it looks. It's not going to hinder you for the rest of your life. The sun will rise sooner than you think. You're already way past midnight. Daybreak is about to happen. Light is about to burst through. My challenge to you is this: Trust him in the dark. Invite God into your challenges. Know that he's with you in the fire, in the floods, the valleys. You may not see anything improving but that's okay. Walk by faith and not by sight. If you'll do this, I believe and declare God is going to turn your mourning into dancing, your sadness into joy. Like with Job, you're going to come out restored, promoted, healthy, stronger than you were before.
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