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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Joel Osteen » Joel Osteen - Be Comfortable Not Knowing

Joel Osteen - Be Comfortable Not Knowing

Joel Osteen - Be Comfortable Not Knowing
TOPICS: 15 Ways to Live Longer and Healthier, Trust

At one point or another, we all face uncertain situations. We have a problem and we don't know how it's going to work out. We study the facts, the numbers, the reports, the odds are against us, so we do our best to come up with a plan, to find a solution. We think we have to have the answer or it's not going to happen, but there are some things that God doesn't want us to know. He has the solution, but if he showed you right now, it wouldn't take faith. The test comes when we don't have the answers, when we don't see how it could happen. When Moses led 2 million Israelites out of slavery into the desert toward the Promised Land, they were so excited. God had just delivered them from the Pharaoh after years of captivity in Egypt. I can imagine them asking Moses, where are we going to camp in the desert? Moses answered, I don't know. Where are we going to get food? Again, I don't know. Where's the water supply? I don't know. How are we going to protect ourselves? I don't know. What route are we going to take, Moses? I don't know.

Moses was comfortable not knowing. He had such a trust in God that he didn't have to have that answer and understand how it was all going to work out. He didn't need all the details. He took it one step at a time. Sometimes we think it's a lack of faith to say, I don't know. We think we have to have all the answers and have it all figured out. Take the pressure off. You don't have to know. God knows. He has you in the palm of his hand. He's directing your steps, and the scripture says that God has planned out all of your days. He has a blueprint for your life. There's a catch. He doesn't show you all the details. If he showed you what he had in store and where he's taking you, it would excite you. You would be amazed, but if you saw what it's going to take to get you there, the giants you're going to have to face, lonely nights, betrayals, closed doors, the Pharaohs who will stand in your way, you might think, no thanks God. I'll just stay where I am.

One reason God doesn't show us the answer is that he knows we would talk ourselves out of it. If you can't figure out how something's going to work out, you start getting worried, losing sleep, wondering what's going to happen, it may be a sign that God doesn't want you to know. You have to be comfortable not knowing. God is working behind the scenes. He's about to make things happen that you didn't see coming. It's going to be out of the ordinary, unusual. You're going to know it was the goodness of God. Moses didn't have to have all the answers. He didn't know how the Israelites would make it, but God provided them manna with food in the desert each morning. Unusual, uncommon. He supplied water out of a rock. He guided them with a cloud during the day, a pillar of fire at night. He brought the walls of Jericho down, not by them fighting but by simply Marching around those walls. They experienced supernatural protection and supernatural provision.

Just because you don't have the answer doesn't mean God is not going to show up and do amazing things. I'm the type of person that wants to know. I like to have a plan. I'm always trying to figure things out. This was especially true when I was younger. When I didn't see a way, I'd get stressed. I was tempted to worry and live on the edge. It's very freeing when you learn this principle, that there are some things we're not supposed to know. Like Moses, it's okay to move forward in faith. You can say, I don't know how it's going to work out, but I'm at peace. When you do that, you're taking yourself off the throne and putting God back on the throne. All that striving, worrying over a plan, manipulating a situation. We're trying to be God, and we're not cut out for that job. You have to learn to take a step back and say, God, I don't see how this can work out, but I'm not going to worry, not going to spend all my time trying to fix something that only you can fix. I trust you. I know your plans for me are for good.

When you're comfortable not knowing, God will get you to where you're supposed to be. I know a man that was in a legal battle for over 10 years. He had done something in business that he didn't think was wrong, but the other party accused him of being dishonest. If the decision didn't turn out in his favor. He would lose his freedom. His case was moving very slowly. For years when he wasn't at his job, he was working on this case with his team running every possible scenario. After about five years of living with that hanging over his head, worried, stressed, not enjoying his family, he finally did what I'm asking us to do. He said, God, I don't see an answer. I'm not sure what to do next, but God, I'm not going to worry about this anymore. I'm not going to keep trying to figure it out. I'm turning it over to you. He changed his approach. He took himself off the throne and he put God back on the throne. Instead of worrying, he started thanking God that he was fighting his battles and thanking him that what was meant for harm. He was turning to his advantage.

Five more years went by. Then out of the blue, the other party dropped the lawsuit. All the complaints against him were dismissed. He never fathomed this would happen. That wasn't even an option. He's just hoping he could win at the trial, that God would give him favor with the authorities, but God's ways are better than our ways. Don't be discouraged by what you don't see, by what you can't figure out. You don't know what God is up to. He's going to surprise you. Doors are going to open. You never dreamed would open. Like this man, problems suddenly turn around. The medical report says, no way, but God makes a way. You didn't see how you could get out of debt, but an unexpected blessing comes, a promotion, a contract, something that thrusts you to a new level. It's going to be out of the ordinary. That's why you couldn't figure it out. That's why you couldn't find an answer. God's going to do it a supernatural way. You're going to see the surpassing greatness of his favor, something that you weren't expecting. My challenge to you is trust him when you don't understand. Let God lead. Be comfortable not knowing.

I found that I'm at my happiest and healthiest when I'm with people who inspire me to pursue God's best. My wife Victoria is an incredible voice of wisdom and encouragement in my life and in the lives of so many others. I wanted to sit down with her and discuss some of these strategies that have helped our church, our family, and our relationships grow stronger and healthier over the years.

Joel Osteen: We're talking about being comfortable not knowing, and sometimes that can be difficult because I think human nature, we want to know what the future's going to be like and how's it going to work out. I like to know all the details as a planner, but the scripture says that God's word is a light unto our path and a lamp into our feet, and it's interesting, you think about a lamp unto your feet. God could have said, I'm going to show you the whole highway. I'm going to have some big beams and all that, but it's just, it's really, faith is one day at a time, and I have to remind myself all the time, Joel, God's already written every day of your life and every day of your life in his book. He knows the end from the beginning, but he's not necessarily going to show us. Maybe sometimes he'll give you some vision for the future, but he may give you a dream but you don't know how it's going to happen, doesn't give you all the details, and so this is the part of faith that you have to say, God, I trust you. I don't know how it's all going to work out.

Victoria Osteen: Yeah, it would be great if we knew the whole plan. I love that. That would make life so easy. We wouldn't even need faith if we knew the whole plan, but the thing is is that the best way to plan for tomorrow is just to be the best that you can be today, and I think that so many times not knowing all we could do is what we knew to do for that day, and if we'll do what God tells us for that day, it'll help for tomorrow.

Joel Osteen: Even when daddy died, Victoria, and you and I took over Lakewood, I thought, man, this is a big church we've never pastored before. I thought, I don't know if it's going to make it. I don't know what's going to happen. We're raising our little children and all that, but we made this decision to come back to a place of peace to say, God, you're still in control, and even though I don't have the details, God, you have a plan. You have all this already laid out and that's that place of peace and that place of trust and then you can step into God's purpose for your life. But I think that the flip side is when you want to know, you get frustrated because man, sometimes Victoria, there is no logical answer. I mean, God told Abraham and Sarah, she's going to have a baby, and she's way too old. There's no way, but you know what? They just chose to trust, to believe that God, you can make ways where we don't see a way.

Victoria Osteen: I'll never forget, we talked earlier in one of the other programs about our kids going to college, and I was a planner. I mean, I was planning every step of the way. I was just helping 'em with everything, doing, and it was as if I was going to college, but I remember thinking, oh, who's going to be their friends, and who are they going to meet, and are they going to get in this sorority or that, and I finally just had to stop because I could only plan so much. I could only plan getting in the car, taking all the stuff to do the dorm that day, everything, and I would just pray, God, you know the future. You know how to get my kids to where they need to be. I can only do what I can do today. I just remember so interesting that God had the right people at every step of the way. When you realize that God is there every step of the way, it helps you depend on him for that day. I'll never forget sitting by a woman, I walked straight up to the front of the auditorium for the parents' orientation, sat by this woman, and she started talking to me and we were talking, anyway she's like, well, my son, my son's Charlie, and I was like, well, my son's Jonathan. I'm texting Jonathan, she's texting Charlie. Jonathan texted me back and says, mom, I'm sitting here with 50 kids. I doubt I'll ever find a Charlie, and he looked up and there was a kid with his notebook. It said "Charlie" and he texted me back, says, mom, I think I found Charlie.

Joel Osteen: He was sitting next to him.

Victoria Osteen: Well, he was just right across from him, and it was just like, okay, God, you've got this, and they became very good friends. He was a great guy. And the same thing happened to Alexandra. She sat right next to a girl that actually I had met her mother earlier, and you know what? All we can do is be our best today to prepare for tomorrow and know we're not going to know everything, but you know what? God is so faithful with our children, with our plans, if we'll just trust him every step of the way.

Joel Osteen: That's so good, Victoria. I love that he's ordered our steps, and I think what can bring you peace like it brings me peace is to realize that God's already got it all figured out. We don't necessarily see the future and what's going to happen, but you have to believe that your Creator, it says before you were formed in your mother's womb, he knew you and he planned out all of your days. And you just have to be at a place of peace from the fact that, hey, he may not show me all the future plan and he's going to lead me a step at a time. Even the Israelites, we've talked about that out in the desert. They had manna for one day, just for 24 hours, and I like what you said earlier, you be your best today. God, I'm trusting you today. I'll make decisions that honor you. I'm going to do what I can, but God, if I don't know how it's all going to work out, I trust that you're going to work it out. Let me tell you, God can part Red Seas. I mean the university Jonathan went to, there's thousands of kids, but he happened to sit by Charlie whom you met that mother. I mean that's only the hand of God can do that, and I bet you can look back in your life and you can see God's goodness guiding you, leading you, directing you, bringing the right people, moving wrong people out, opening up the right doors. Well, that's why we can trust when we don't understand because our Heavenly Father is in control and he's ordering our steps.

Proverbs says, trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. Take this in the right sense, but there are times when you have to turn your mind off. Don't try to figure everything out. You might consider the possibility that God doesn't want you to know. In the scripture, God told Abraham to leave his country and take his family to a land that he would show him. It's interesting that God didn't tell him where. I can imagine him telling his wife Sarah that they were moving. She said, oh, great. That's exciting. Where are we going? He answers, I don't know. She asks, well, what should I wear? I don't know. What's the weather going to be like? I don't know. Abraham would've never become the father of our faith if he wasn't comfortable not knowing.

Paul said in Romans eight, we know not what to pray. Here's a man who wrote almost half of the books in the New Testament, one of the most brilliant minds of his day. Yet he said, we know not. He was comfortable with what he didn't know. He didn't see it as a lack of faith to admit, I don't have all the answers, I don't know what to pray all the time, I have uncertainties, things I don't understand, I'm not sure how they're going to work out. The reason Paul could say this and not be worried or become bitter, ask God, why did this happen? Why is it taking so long? It's found two verses later. He said in verse 26, we know not. Then in verse 28, he said, we know that all things work together for good to those who love God. The way you can say "We know not" and not be worried is if you do know all things are working for your good.

I know not how it's going to work out, but I do know who's on the throne. I know not my next steps, but I do know who's directing my steps. Are you frustrated by what you don't know? What you can't figure out? What doesn't look as though it's going to work? Have a new perspective. Even the apostle Paul said he didn't know. It's okay to not have all the answers. You have to know what your job is and what God's job is. Sometimes we're frustrated because we're trying to do what only God can do. There are some things that we can't fix. You can't make yourself get well, or make somebody else do what's right, make certain doors to open. In those situations, our part is to pray, to believe: our part is to stay in faith, and then trust God to do his part, trust him to work it out.

Sometimes you just have to say, God, only you can make this happen, so I'm not going to fret and worry about it. I'm going to be still and know that you are God. The way to stay in peace is to not talk about how big the enemy is, but talk about how big your God is. Sometimes I just stop and remind myself. He flung stars into space. He spoke worlds into existence. He parted the Red Sea. He breathed breath into my lungs. He healed my mother of terminal cancer. He's done great things, and the good news is he's breathing in your direction right now. He's pushing back forces of darkness. Don't let fear clutter your mind. Don't let doubt keep you from your miracle. Don't let what people say talk you out of your dream.

When you study the heroes of faith, you see how often they said, I know not. David said, I know not how I'm going to defeat this giant. He's twice my size. But I know God is on my side. Esther said, I know not if the king will accept me without an invitation, but I'm going to take this step of faith believing that God has chosen me to save my nation. Joseph, left by his brothers to die, sitting in a pit said, I know not how I'm going to lead a nation as God showed me in a dream, but I trust his plan. The way they stayed in faith was knowing that all things were working for their good. Even when they didn't have the answers, they trusted that God was in control.

God gave Abraham the promise that he and Sarah would have a baby when they were way too old. Almost 25 years passed with no sign of the child. Every circumstance said it was impossible, but Abraham understood this principle. He said, in effect, we know not how it can happen. There's no way in the natural, but God, we trust you. We believe what you promised will come to pass. Sarah had a baby when she was 90 years old. God did what they had never dreamed could be done, and that's the key to faith... Trusting when you don't understand, trusting when you don't have the answers, trusting when it seems like it's just the opposite of what you're hoping for. That's when it's tempting to live worried and frustrated thinking it's never going to work out.

Joel, I don't see how this can happen. It doesn't feel like I'm ever going to get a good job or get out of this debt. I don't see how I'm going to find a spouse. It's been such a long battle fighting this sickness. It's hard to imagine my child ever coming back to the Lord. Not knowing is a test. What you do when you don't know, when it looks impossible, will determine what God does. When you pass the test of not knowing, you will see God do things that you couldn't make happen on your own. You may be where Abraham was. God's promised you something, but it's been a long time. Seems like it's too late. You don't see how you could ever have that baby, how you could get well, how you could accomplish a dream. Stay in faith. You don't have to have all the answers. Not seeing in a way doesn't mean that God is not going to do it. What he has spoken over your life is still on the way.

An abundant life starts on the inside and works its way out. You should be your biggest encourager because your happy, healthy life can't happen without you. Here are some words to live by. Every day, I choose joy. God has me in the palm of his hand. I never have to worry. As a child of God, I am unoffendable and quick to forgive. I forgive because I am forgiven. As the scripture says:

I am strong in the Lord and the power of his might.

in all circumstances, I will bless the Lord, for this is the day he has made.

God is on the throne. He is ordering my steps. He is providing for my every need.

I can surrender my worries, my burdens, and all my cares into his hands.

I look forward to tomorrow, but embrace the present.

I have grace for today, and God will give me grace for tomorrow when tomorrow comes.

I'll fight for those who cannot fight for themselves because my God fights for me.

my rest comes from God. He is the one who restores my soul.

I am who God says I am, and I will reach my full God-given potential no matter what comes my way. I have everything I need to live an abundant life.

Today I'm asking you to be comfortable not knowing. Quit being worried over what you can't figure out. Someone says to you, I heard about your problem. What are you going to do? Your answer should be, I don't know, but I do know the one who does. You may have questions about your health, your marriage, your finances. That's okay. There will be times when like Paul, you know not, but don't stop there. Go down two more verses and say, but I know all things are working together for my good. If you'll do this, I believe and declare you're going to see supernatural provision, protection, healing, you'll be happier. You'll be free to fulfill all that God has planned for you.
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