Joel Osteen — I'm Still Standing
I want to talk to you today about "I'm still standing". We all go through difficulties and things we don't understand, and it's easy to get discouraged and think, "Why am I having these problems"? Faith doesn't exempt us from difficulties. The scripture says, "Rain falls on the just and the unjust". No matter how good of a person you are, no matter how much you honor God, you're going to have some rain.
A man said to me last week in the lobby, "Joel, I'm having more problems than my neighbor down the street that doesn't have anything to do with God". Jesus told a parable about this, where a wise man built his house up on the rock. He honored God. Another man built his house on the sound, he didn't. The winds blew, the rains descended and beat upon the houses.
What's interesting is the same storm came to both people, the just and the unjust. If the story ended right there, you would think, "Doesn't make a difference to honor God. Same thing happens to me that happens to everybody else. Built my house on the rock, yet I'm in this storm. Got a bad medical report, child got off course, lost my biggest client". No, that's not the end of the story. If you judge it too soon, it may seem like it doesn't make a difference. Jesus went on to tell the man that built his house up on the rock, when the storm was over, his house was still standing. The man that built on the sand, his house had washed away.
Here's the difference. When you honor God, the storms may come, but you have a promise that others don't have. When it's all said and done, you'll still be standing, and in difficult times, you have to remind yourself, "This is not the end. My house is built up on the rock. The enemy doesn't have the final say, God does, and he says when it's all over, I'll still be standing". You may get knocked down, but you won't get knocked out. You may suffer a setback, have to go through a few things, but don't get discouraged, don't get bitter. It's just life. It rains on all of us. Is if you'll stay in faith, when the smoke clears and the dust settles, you will not be the victim, you will be the victor.
All of us can look back at things that should've defeated us. That divorce, that bad break should've given you a nervous breakdown, but look at you, you're still standing happy, whole, restored. That addiction, that partying lifestyle should've killed you, but because of your praying mother, sober, free. That sickness should've been the end, the medical report said you were done, but God said, "I've got another report, it's not over. You're still standing". Or maybe you lost a loved one, didn't think you could go on, thought you had seen your best days. But God breathed new life into you, lifted you out of the pit, put a new song in your heart, and here you are today, through some things, you see the goodness of God, you see him lift you, restore you, promote you, heal you.
When you have this history with God, remembering what he's done, you don't get discouraged by every difficulty. You don't fall apart because of a disappointment. You don't get upset because people are talking about you. You know God brought you through in the past, and he's going to bring you through in the future.
About a year after I took over for my father as pastor of the church back in 1999, I got word that one of our long-time members was going to leave the church. These were people that I'd grown up with. I was young and doing my best, and last thing I wanted was to lose people, and when I heard this, my first thought was, "Oh man, can't believe this is happening". I was tempted to get down and discouraged, but then something rose up in me. I thought to myself, "I made it through the death of my father. I made it through one of my darkest hours. I can make it through them leaving".
I thought, "I made it through my mother having terminal cancer. I made it through a 3 1/2-year lawsuit to get this facility. I made it through critics and naysayers telling me I couldn't minister. I made it through my own thoughts telling me I wasn't qualified. If I can make it through that, I can make it without them being here". I heard God say right down in here, "Joel, don't worry, they may leave, but I'm not going to leave".
When it's all said and done, just like all those other times, you may be in a difficult time right now, you need to look back and remember what God has done for you. Remember how he's made a way when you didn't see a way. Remember how he's opened doors that should've never opened. Remember how he put you at the right place at the right time, promoted you, healed you, restored you. If he did it for you once, he can do it for you again, and your house is built up on the rock. You have this promise that no matter what comes your way, when the storm is over, when the trouble has passed, when the opposition has ceased, one thing you can count on, you'll still be standing. You have the DNA of Almighty God. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives on the inside of you, and you may get knocked down, but you're not going to stay down. There's something in your DNA that says, "Get back up again. That's not where you belong, you're a child of the Most High God.
We had a hurricane here in Houston a few years ago, and there were all kinds of trees blown down, huge oak trees 4 or 5 feet in diameter. They were no match for the 100 mile an hour winds. Pine trees well over 100 feet tall laying yard after yard. Big trees, small trees, pines, oaks, magnolias, elms, the hurricane force winds. There was only one type of tree that I noticed wasn't blown down. It was the palm tree. It's because God designed the palm to withstand the storm.
Unlike most other trees, the palm is able to bend so it doesn't break. There's a certain kind of palm that can bend over to where it's almost touching the ground. During a hurricane, it may stay that way for 5 or 6 hours, looks like it's over, looks like it's done. I can imagine the hurricane huffing, puffing, saying, "I am not be able to break you like the oaks or the pines, but at least I can keep you all bent over". At least I can keep you from the hurricane thinks it's winning the battle, but in a few hours, when it runs out of strength, when the winds die back down, you know what happens? The palm tree stands right back up to where it was again.
Why is that? In the palm tree. It may get pushed over, but it's only temporary, just a matter of time before it stands right back up. Psalm 92:12 says, "The righteous will flourish like a palm tree". It could've said we'd flourish like an oak tree, be big and strong and have wide branches. Could've said we'd flourish like a pine tree, be tall and impressive and be able to see for miles. But the reason God said we would flourish like a palm is because God knew we would face difficulties. He knew there would be things in life to try to push us down and keep us from our destinies.
So God said, "I'm going to make you like a palm. I'm going to put bounce back on the inside," and you may go through a season where the winds are blowing, a season of loss, of disappointment, a season of dealing with an illness, but don't get discouraged, it's only temporary. At some point, those winds will stop blowing, and the bounce back put in you by your creator will cause you to straighten right back up to where you were before.
Don't believe the lies that it's permanent, "You'll never get well. You'll never overcome that addiction. You'll never get out of that legal problem". No, your house is built up on the rock. You may be a little bent over now, you may have some difficulties, be encouraged, you're going to stand right back up to where you were before. What's interesting is when the palm tree is bent over because of the hurricane, you would think that's damaging the tree and making it weaker. But research when the tree is being pushed and stretched by the strong winds, it's strengthening its root system and giving it opportunities for new growth.
After the storm, when the palm tree stands right back up, it's actually stronger than it was before, and when you get through that storm, when you straighten back up, you're not going to be the same. You're going to be stronger, healthier, wiser, better off, ready for new growth. God never brings you out the same. He makes the enemy pay for bringing the trouble. What's meant for your harm, God will use to your advantage. That difficulty is not going to defeat you, it's going to promote you. It's not going to break you, it's going to strengthen you. You're not only going to still be standing, you're going to be standing stronger than ever.
I have a friend that's had cancer three times. It's been going on the last 10 years, and a couple of times it looked like he was done. But I've never once seen him down, I've never heard him complain. He knows God has him in the palm of his hand. He knows the number of his days God will fulfill. In other words, he's got his house built upon the rock, and every time it looks like he's done, somehow, like that palm tree, last time the cancer came back, the doctors told him they were going to harvest his white blood cells before he took chemotherapy. He asked them how many they needed, they gave him a number. He said, "Doctor, I'm going to give you twice what you're asking for".
Every day, he would thank God that he was getting better. He saw himself healthy and whole, went out and exercised, two months later, went back to the hospital, the doctors said, "You're a man of your word. You've given us more than twice what we've asked for". Today, he's totally cancer free, beat the cancer for the third time. Here's what I'm saying, no matter how hard those winds blow, they cannot uproot you, they cannot topple you, they cannot break you. Sickness doesn't determine your destiny, God does. He's the one that breathed life into you. He made your body. If it's not your time to go, you're not going to go.
God has the final say, and he said, "No weapon formed against you will prosper". He said, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers us out of them all". He said, "A good man may fall seven times, but the Lord will raise him up". There's the bounce back. Now, you've got to get in agreement with God. Don't have a weak, defeated mentality, "Ah, Joel, why did this happen to me? I don't understand it". I can tell you why it happened, because you're alive. It rains on everyone. The good news is because you're the righteous, you have something in you that the unrighteous doesn't have.
Like that palm tree, there's bounce back in your spirit, and no matter how hard those winds blow, they cannot defeat you. If you'll stay in faith, you'll be able to say, like my friend, "I'm still standing. Sickness had me down for a little while, but I came right back up, still standing". Went through a slow season at work, had a bad break, but it didn't defeat me, it promoted me. I came out stronger, I'm still standing. Or maybe I had a breakup in a relationship, somebody walked out on me, broke my heart, didn't think I'd ever be happy again, but look what the Lord has done, brought somebody better into my life. I'm still standing, stronger than ever.
Met a young couple that moved they lost everything during hurricane Katrina. The house that they had worked so hard for was washed away, lost their possessions, their furniture, their car. They made it out only with the clothes on their back. A bus dropped them off and when I met them here at Lakewood, it's like they were numb. Their whole world had fallen apart. The man's company, the people he worked for had closed down. He no longer had a job. I told them what I'm telling you, "You may be down, but it's temporary. There's bounce back in your spirit. When it's all said and done, you'll still be standing strong.
Week after week they kept coming to Lakewood, hearing about how we are victors and not victims, and about how God will pay you back for the unfair things that have happened. A couple of years later, they brought me pictures in the lobby of the new home they just moved into. In New Orleans, they had an older home, but here they have a brand new home. The man told how he has a better job with better benefits. His kids are in better school, on and on.
That's what happens when your house is built up on the rock. It doesn't prevent difficulties. You may have some storms, you may go through some bad breaks, but because of the bounce back in your spirit, when it's all over, you'll still be standing. Not the same, but increased, promoted, better off than you were before.
Isaiah said, "When the enemy comes in like a flood," that means when you feel overwhelmed, you lost your house in the hurricane, you got a bad medical report, a friend did you wrong in a business deal. What does God do? Sit back and think, "Too bad. I told you it's going to rain, told you life was going to be difficult"? No, when the enemy comes in like a flood, God raises up a barrier. In other words, that injustice, that bad break, that sickness, it gets God's attention. He doesn't sit back, he goes to work. It's like as a parent, if you see anything bothering your child, if someone or something is giving them a hard time, you don't think twice, you stop what you're doing and immediately go to help.
One time, when our son Jonathan was a little boy, maybe about 2 years old, we were at the grocery store together, and I had walked down to the end of the aisle to get something. He stayed there at the cart, and I could still see him, but he was about 40 feet away. He started pulling things off the bottom shelf. A few boxes of cereal, no big deal, I was going to clean it up, but this lady came around the corner that worked there and got very upset that he was making a mess.
She started jumping down his throat, saying, "Listen here, young man, you need to learn to keep your hands to yourself, and you cannot make this mess in my store," on and on, something rose up on the inside of me. I don't know if it was God or the devil, but it felt good. I'm the nicest guy you'll ever meet. I'll do anything in the world for you, but if you mess with my children, you've got a fight on your hands. That's the way it is with our heavenly father. When the enemy comes in like a flood, God steps up and says, "Hey, wait a minute, you're messing with the wrong person. That's my son, that's my daughter. If you're going to mess with them, you're going to have to first mess with me. Who am I? I am the all-powerful creator Of the universe". When God said, "Let there be light," light came at 186,000 miles a second. God says to your enemies, "You want some of this"?
You got to realize in the tough times, you're not alone. You've got somebody fighting for you. The most high God has got your back. Now, you got to get your fire back. You can't go through life focused on who hurt you, and what didn't work out, and how unfair it is. That's going to keep you down. Shake off that weak, defeated mentality and have a warrior mentality. A warrior doesn't complain about opposition. On the contrary, a warrior likes a good fight. It fires him up.
This is what David did in the scripture. He suffered a major setback. While he and his men were out protecting the borders of Israel, doing the right thing, fulfilling their purpose, it began to rain. These bandits came in and attacked their home city of Ziklag, burned down their houses, stole their possessions, kidnapped their wives and children, and when he and his 600 men returned home and saw the smoke billowing in the distance, finally realized that was their home city, the scripture says they wept until they could it was the worst day of their lives.
It looked like it was over, looked like they were done. It would've stayed that way if it had not been for David. He did something that we all must do if we're going to see the bounce back. Instead of staying in the ashes, focusing on how bad life had treated him, that warrior spirit began to rise up. He thought, "Hey, my worse defeat so far, but this is not the end of my story. I am the righteous, I've got bounce back in my spirit. My house is built upon the rock. I have the promise. When it's all over, I'll still be standing".
He started encouraging himself, reminding him who he was and whose he was. He told his men, "Get up. Dry your tears, get your equipment, we're going to go get what belongs to us". They went out, not only attacked and defeated the enemy, but they got all their possessions back, they got their wives and children back. The scripture says they recovered all, and David's greatest defeat turned into one of his greatest victories.
We all face unfair situations, things that seem like they're going to bury us. But if you will have this warrior mentality and go after what belongs to you, the enemy won't have the last laugh, you will. He may hit you with his best shot, but his best will never be enough. The forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. Like David, you may be down right now, it may be raining in your life, but because your house is built upon the rock, because you are the righteous, there's bounce back in your spirit. You're still going to be standing.
A few weeks ago, I was at home lifting weights by myself. I was lying on a bench doing the bench press. I was using a barbell, free weights. It wasn't a machine, and this was my last set, I was going to do five repetitions, and it was a very heavy weight for me. I did number one, two, three, everything fine just like normal. But on rep number four, it was very hard, could barely get it up. I thought, "Okay, I'm going to go ahead and try number five, but I don't know if I could do it," and I pushed number five and got about half way up and got stuck. I pushed and pushed gave it everything I had, but it wouldn't budge. I couldn't do it.
I went to set the weight down on the safety rails I have on each side so I could get out from under it. The only problem was Jonathan was home from college, and he had moved the safety rails lower when he was working out. I forgot to check them. On my chest and I'm totally out of energy. I couldn't shake it off to one side or the other, there were clamps on the end of the barbells. At times before, I've rolled it down my chest to my stomach, but I couldn't do it with this heavy weight.
My first thought was, "How long can I keep this weight off of me and I thought, "Probably about a minute or two". My next thought was, "You've already wasted 30 seconds". As I sat there contemplating what I should do, something rose up in me and said, "Joel, you are not going to let this weight crush you. You are not going to let your family come in here this is not the end of your story, you're too young to die. You got too much in you to die. You're too good-looking to die".
Crazy thoughts come I pushed on this right side with all of my might, the left side caught the lower safety rail and I scooted about an inch. I rested a few seconds and pushed again on that right side, scooted another inch, and another, and another. Eventually, I was able to get my shoulder out from the bench, then my chest out, and finally I fell to the ground and that barbell was caught by the lower rail.
Here's my point, when you're in a tough time, you can't sit around thinking about the bad break and how unfair it was, and I can't believe I got this sickness, can't believe they left me, can't believe this weight is on me. You can either let that sickness crush you, you can let that defeat, that bad break, that disappointment finish you off, die under the weight of it, or you can have and do what you've got to do. Push, scoot, stretch, squirm, wiggle, refocus, get your second wind, and beat it. I got up off the ground and my chest was a little scraped, and my back was a little bruised, but at least I was still alive.
I looked at that weight and said, "You didn't defeat me, I'm still standing". The scripture puts it this way, God has armed you with strength for every battle. I found the more difficult the battle, the more strength you'll have. Your strength will always match what you're up against. When I think about how I got out from under that weight, I don't know how I did it. I was totally out of energy, I'd used all my strength for that fifth rep. I could've said, "God, please just take this off of me, it's going to kill me". God said, "No, Joel, push one more time and watch what will happen". I pushed and discovered strength that I didn't know I had.
Are you letting something defeat you because you don't think you have the strength to overcome, the strength to deal with that financial problem, that sickness, that child that's off course? If you'll have this warrior mentality and do what you can do, God will help you do what you cannot do.
I saw on the news just last week, this man came up to a car on the freeway that had crashed. There was a person trapped on the inside. The car caught on fire. Over to the door frame and somehow ripped the door away from the car so the person could get out. They showed a picture of this bent steel frame, looked like something you would see in the movies from a superhero. They asked the man how he did it, he said, "I don't know, I just pulled as hard as I could".
When you do what you got to do, you'll discover a strength that you didn't know you had. Friends, you are not weak, you're not defeated, you're a warrior. You've got resurrection power on the inside. You may be down right now, those winds may be blowing, but like that palm tree, you're about to come back up again. You're not going to stay down. You're not going to be the same, you're going to be stronger, healthier, better off.
This is a new day. Things are changing in your favor. God's done it in the past, he's going to do it again in the future. You need to get ready, a bounce back is coming. You're going to bounce back from sickness, bounce back from loss, bounce back from bad breaks, bounce back from debt. Those winds cannot uproot you. They don't have the final say, God does, and because your house is built up on the rock, no matter what comes against you, I believe and declare when it's all said and done, you will not be the victim, you will be the victor. You will still be standing in Jesus' name.