Joel Osteen — Unexpected Sunshine
I want to talk to you today about unexpected sunshine. A few months ago, it had been cloudy in Houston for a long time; grey, gloomy, overcast. Every morning when I woke up, I thought, "Surely it's going to be sunny today". I looked outside eagerly but nothing had changed. I watched the weather reports on the news. As far out as they predicted, it was all cloudy. I checked the 10 day report on my phone, nothing had changed, no end in sight. It had been that way so long, people started asking the question, "When are we ever going to see the sun again"?
Sometimes it can be that way in life. It's cloudy in our health, cloudy in our finances, cloudy in a relationship. Day after day goes by. It doesn't look like it's ever going to change. A gentleman told recently how he struggled with an addiction since high school. Those dark clouds rolled in. Now 30 years later, he's still dealing with it; he hasn't seen the sun. When it's been dark for a long time, it's easy to get discouraged and think that it's never going to change.
One morning I was in my office looking out the window. It was another gray, gloomy day like it had been again and again. But all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the clouds broke open and this bright ray of sunlight came shining down. It looked like a postcard. It was so beautiful; the sun shining through the trees, the ground was glistening. I sat there and took it all in. It was such a welcomed sight. I could feel my spirits lifting.
In a few minutes, as I watched, all the clouds dissipated. They didn't blow away; they just went away like fog burning off. I heard these two words in my spirit, "Unexpected sunshine". Maybe it's been cloudy in your life for a long time. Those clouds of loneliness don't look like they'll ever leave. You don't think you would ever meet the right person. But can I tell you that God has "Unexpected sunshine". He's already lined up the person of your dreams. It's just a matter of time before those clouds open up.
The medical report may say you'll never get well, just learn to live with it. It's cloudy in your health. Stay encouraged; unexpected sunshine is coming your way. Or those clouds of struggle, lack, can't get ahead may have followed you around for years. You could easily accept mediocrity; think you've reached your limits, no get ready for unexpected sunshine. One touch of God's favor can thrust you to the next level. It may be overcast right now; gloomy in some area of your life. The good news is those clouds don't stop our God, he controls the clouds; in a split second he can cause them to open up, suddenly you get well, suddenly you meet the right person, suddenly you're out of debt.
Don't be discouraged by the clouds; they're only temporary. It was cloudy in our life in 1981 when my mother was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. Those clouds came storming in and everywhere we looked it was dark, gloomy, depressing. The forecast said a few weeks to live but people don't have the final say, God does. He said, "I have unexpected sunshine. I'm going to cause those clouds to open up, shine down healing, shine down restoration". That's what happened in my mother's life; unexpectedly the sun came out. Thirty-four years later she's still healthy and whole.
But when it's cloudy, every voice will tell you it's never going to change, you'll always be addicted, always be discouraged, always struggle in your career. Don't believe those lies. God is saying, "I have unexpected sunshine coming your way". It's going to be unusual, out of the ordinary, and it's going to happen suddenly. Those clouds are going to break open; you're going to see rays of healing, rays of favor, rays of promotion.
Now do your part and get in agreement with God. Start acting like it's going to happen, thinking like it's going to happen, talking like it's going to happen. No more, "I'll never get well Joel, I've had this too long". No, God is restoring health unto me, the number of my days he will fulfill. No more, "I never get any good breaks, I'll never accomplish my dreams". No, I have the favor of God, blessings are chasing me down, I'm the head and not the tail. No more, "This problem is too big, I don't see a way out". No, it may be big but I know my God is bigger. It may be a little cloudy right now but I know a secret, unexpected sunshine is coming my way.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:22, "A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul". When you have this attitude of faith, positive, hopeful, expecting good things, that pure eye is letting sunshine into your life. But when we go around stressed out, worried, thinking it's never going to change that's stopping the sun. It's causing more clouds to roll in, more defeat, more mediocrity. You have to start letting some sun shine into your life. It doesn't start with God, it starts with us.
Instead of being discouraged by the dark clouds our attitude should be, "Any moment this can change. Healing is coming, promotion is coming, the right person is coming, breakthroughs are coming". If you want to see the clouds open up you have to have this expectancy. Shake off the negativity, quit talking about what's not working out, turn it around. "God I know you're in control of these clouds, they didn't come to stay they came to pass, I believe at any moment I'm going to see that unexpected sunshine".
A friend of mine had a supervisor at work that was very condescending and hard to get along with; nobody liked the man. This supervisor had been a constant source of frustration year after year. He was a young man. He could have easily been there for another 20 or 30 years. My friend had a good attitude, he was determined to be his best right where he was but in the back of his mind he thought, "This is going to be a pain to have to put up with this man the rest of my life".
One morning he came to work, everything seemed like normal but the management called a special staff meeting. They told how this supervisor's wife had been transferred to another state and just without any warning he resigned and was no longer with the company. Half of the staff fell down on their knees and began to thank God.
What was that? Unexpected sunshine. He didn't see it coming the forecast was cloudy. All the reports said this problem is permanent but God controls the universe. He knows how to suddenly change things. He can suddenly move the wrong people out. He can suddenly open doors you never dreamed would open. That's why you can't just go by what you see. What you see is temporary.
Like those weather forecast it may tell you it's going to be the same month after month, year after year; gloomy, depressing, it's never going to change. In the natural that may be true but the good news is we serve a supernatural God. On your own you may be stuck but you're not on your own. The Creator of the universe, the God who spoke worlds into existence has you in the palm of his hand. He's directing your steps. He controls the clouds. He controls the winds. He doesn't have to wait for the weather to get better. He doesn't have to wait for the medical report to improve. He doesn't have to wait for the situation to turn around. No, when it's your time for promotion, for healing, for abundance, all the forces of darkness cannot stop our God.
Don't get discouraged and give up on what you're believing for. You need to get ready those clouds are about to open up; the sun is about to breakthrough. Just like I saw in my office that day in 15 minutes all the clouds went out of the sky, totally cleared up. God knows how to make what should have taken years happen in a fraction of the time. You're going to look up and say like my friend, "I didn't see that coming. I didn't see my supervisor resigning that quickly. I didn't see my health improving this fast. I didn't see that new house on the radar. I didn't see that favor coming".
A gentleman that's attended Lakewood for many years had a major stroke. He was told by the medical professionals that he would probably never be able to walk or talk again. Even if he did relearn how to do it, it would take years of rehabilitation. It looked cloudy. The forecast was very depressing but this man understood this principle that God has unexpected sunshine. He didn't sit around in self-pity, he knew he was a victor, not a victim. He went to therapy everyday and he amazed the therapists. They had never seen anyone like him.
Sixteen months after he had the stroke he came back to Lakewood for the first time, he came back not in a wheelchair, not on a walker, he walked in on his own two feet. He was told that he would never be able to lift his left arm but when I saw him in the lobby and our eyes met he lifted that arm, both arms raised in the air, raised in victory. I'll never forget that image. He wasn't disabled, he wasn't limping; what should have taken years God made happen in a fraction of the time, unexpected sunshine.
The scripture puts it this way, when darkness overtakes the righteous light will come bursting in. It doesn't say it will trickle in, barely get there, hopefully make it one day. No, suddenly, unexpectedly, it will come bursting in. That means it wasn't on the radar, you didn't see it coming but God in his goodness turned it all around. It may be dark in your life right now, cloudy in some area. You don't see how you would ever get well, ever get out of debt, ever see the legal situation resolve.
Here's the key, you are the righteous, you are a child of the Most High God, you have Royal blood flowing through your veins that means you have a promise from your Creator when it gets dark, when you could easily be discouraged, when you feel like giving up God says you need to get ready, light is about to burst in. Healing is going to burst in, favor is going to burst in, vindication, restoration is going to suddenly show up.
I talked to a man that knew the Lord as a child but when he was a teenager he got off course and started running with the wrong crowd. He was living a very violent life selling drugs, involved in crime. He was a disaster waiting to happen. Most of his life he was high. Surely God wouldn't have anything to do with him. It was his own fault. He brought the trouble on himself. But God is so merciful. Even though he was making poor choices, even though he turned away from God, God didn't turn away from him. God still saw him as the righteous.
In the midst of all that trouble God said, "That's my son. He belongs to me. He's overcome by darkness, so my light is about to come bursting in". He was in a hotel room; had been there for four days doing drugs with some very violent people. Something happened to where he couldn't make his payment and they became very angry and were about to take his life. He ran and barricaded himself in the bathroom. High on drugs, he said, "This is it! God I'm sorry my life is over". In a few minutes the door was violently kicked in. He braced himself expecting the worst.
When he looked up it wasn't who he thought. It was a group of young people from teen challenge. He had been involved with that ministry as a teenager. Now years later, they heard that he was in trouble. Somehow, they found him in the middle of the night, in this drug infested, rundown hotel just in the knick of time they burst in there like navy seals. The other people thought they were the police and took off running. They picked him up off the ground and said, "God sent us here to rescue you because you belong to him"!
That night was a turning point in his life. He never did another drug; got out of that violent lifestyle. Today, he goes around to schools and churches telling people what God has done for him.
Maybe like this young man, you have a son, a daughter, a family member that's off course, running with the wrong crowd. They've been overcome by darkness, you could easily be discouraged but stay in faith; your child belongs to God. There's nothing that can snatch them out of his hand. They may be in darkness but light is coming, deliverance is coming, freedom is coming. God is not judging them by where they are right now. God is not abandoning them because they turned their back, God still sees them as the righteous, light is still about to burst in. Or maybe you've made poor choices; you don't think you could expect anything good. "Joel, God would never help me you don't know the life that I've lived". It doesn't say, "God will help the righteous as long as you don't make any mistakes".
Have a new perspective: you belong to God, you are his child. Now you have to have this attitude, "God I made this mess, I brought this trouble on myself but I know you're a God of mercy and I believe you still have unexpected sunshine coming my way". In other words, "I'm struggling with this addiction but I believe deliverance is on the way, restoration, vindication is going to suddenly show up".
Numbers chapter 17 there had been a power struggle over who would become the next priest and people were questioning Moses' authority. God told Moses he was going to show them who the priest should be. God instructed Moses to take the staffs, the walking sticks from the leaders of each of the tribes of Israel. He placed these walking sticks in a tent next to the ark of the covenant, that's where God lived back then. These staffs were just old, dried up, dead pieces of wood; just basically a stick that they had used for years.
The next morning the staff of Aaron had sprouted branches, grown leaves, and even produced almonds. Here this old piece of dead wood was now blooming and blossoming. They knew Aaron was supposed to be the priest. One lesson we can learn from this story is that God can change things overnight. He can take a situation that should take years to resolve and accelerate it.
You may think it's going to take years to get well, years to get out of debt, years to accomplish your dreams. God knows how to speed it up, one good break, one phone call, one idea, suddenly, unexpectedly overnight God can change it.
Now don't believe the lies that it's never going to get better. "Joel, my marriage situation it looks dead, my dreams, my financial situation it all looks dead". That's ok, God took a stick that had been dead for years and caused it to produce new fruit. What you think is dead, God is saying, "I can still cause it to bloom, to blossom, I can breathe new life in it". You can still become who you were created to be. You can still overcome that obstacle. You can still accomplish your dreams.
I received a letter from a lady that had been married for 47 years but because of some hurtful things in the relationship, she and her husband had recently gotten a divorce. Somebody invited her to Lakewood. Her ex-husband heard and asked if he could come. The Saturday night before the service they had a big disagreement on the phone, nothing had changed. Sunday morning, he went and picked her up and on the way over in the car they had another major argument. She was so upset she almost got out and wouldn't come in.
They finally arrived and went way up to the top to sit. She mentioned to an usher that it was their first time and they were visiting. He said, "Oh follow me"! He took them from the very top to the front section and sat them on the second row. They were very moved by the service. During the prayer time they came up and prayed with one of our volunteer prayer partners, a young lady.
After the service being new they didn't really know where to go so they walked out this exit right over here by my left. I was coming out of a small room, she was coming around a corner and we literally bumped into each other. I said, "Oh I'm sorry. I didn't see you". Out of all the people here she was surprised that she bumped into me. Her husband spoke up and said, "We just got divorced after 47 years and we came to church because we're hurting". I told them it wasn't a coincidence that we had bumped into each other it was the hand of God directing their steps.
I had a new book that was out, I asked them if they would come upstairs with me and I gave them a copy of my book and we prayed together. As they were leaving through that lobby thousands of people walking in and out, it just so happened they bumped into the young lady that had prayed with them during the service, that volunteer prayer partner. She asked if this couple had a moment that they could talk together. She spoke to them about forgiveness, restoration, new beginnings.
The wife was having a hard time forgiving. She looked her in the eyes and said, "Your husband is a good man. He deserves your forgiveness". That moment she released the hurt, their marriage was restored, that was six years ago. Today they are happily remarried, right here on the front row. John and Ann; some of our most faithful volunteers, really great people. Ann wrote at the end of the letter, "Joel we were both stunned at how quickly God turned things around".
Friends God knows how to change things overnight. Even situations that look impossible. You think it's way too far gone, God knows how to break through those dark clouds. Suddenly the relationship was restored, suddenly you get healthy again, and suddenly you get that break you need. God is going to accelerate what you think should take years. You know what that usher was that brought them from the top down to the front? Unexpected sunshine. You know what that volunteer prayer partner was, that took time to speak faith into their life, that prayed with them that day? Unexpected sunshine.
What am I saying, God has the right people lined up for you. He knows how to put you at the right place at the right time. What are the chances of all the people here that we would bump into each other; it wasn't a coincidence it was unexpected sunshine. You may think, "Joel my situation, I don't see how it could ever work out". Here's the beauty, you don't have to figure it out, all you have to do is believe. Just because you don't see a way doesn't mean that God doesn't have a way. He already has the solution. Our attitude should be "God my life is in your hands. It's a little cloudy right now, I don't see how I can accomplish my dream but God I believe you have unexpected sunshine coming my way. I believe you'll get me to where I'm supposed to be".
The Psalmist put it this way, "Weeping may endure for a night but joy is coming in the morning". Think about this, morning starts at midnight. At midnight it's still dark but it's a new day. In a few hours light is coming, the sun is going to break forth. But too often, when it's dark in our life, we think, "Oh man, nothing's changing. Joel it's never going to get any better". No you have to believe that you have passed midnight. You have to believe that you have entered into a new day.
Here's the key, don't wait to thank God until you see the sunshine, dare to thank him while it's still dark. Dare to have a good attitude while it's still cloudy. This is what faith is all about. We think when I see it I'll believe it but faith says you have to believe it and then you'll see it.
But when things aren't going our way it's easy to do just the opposite, get negative, complain. "Why can't I get any good breaks"? "When is this ever going to change"? No turn it around, "It may be dark right now but Lord I believe I've entered into a new day. I believe I passed midnight so I want to thank you that joy is coming, healing is coming, the right person is coming, the breakthrough is coming. Lord, thank you for your unexpected sunshine"! You live like that you're going to see some suddenlies; those clouds are going to open, God will amaze you with his goodness.
This couple I know were at the beach. They were in the water playing in the waves having a lot of fun. At one point the lady felt her expensive diamond necklace slip off of her neck into the water. They were right at the place where the waves were breaking. The water was all stirred up like a washing machine. She and her husband looked hour after hour but it was impossible. The water was so turbulent they had no chance of finding it. Even though she was disappointed that she lost it, she didn't let it steal her joy or sour the rest of her vacation.
The next morning she went out to the beach very early to enjoy the beautiful sunrise, standing there in the surf, thanking God for what he had done; not even thinking about her necklace under her foot as the waves retreated it pulled more and more sand out, little by little. In a few minutes she felt something sharp poking her foot. She thought it was a rock, a seashell. She looked down. It was her diamond necklace; unexpected sunshine.
Only God could make that happen. That's like finding a needle in the haystack. The good news, God created the haystack. He knows where everything is. He tells every grain of sand where to go. He controls the sea. He controls the clouds.
If God can help her find a necklace in the ocean, he can bring your dreams to pass. He can help you overcome that problem. He has it all figured out. "Well, Joel, I don't have the connections". That's okay, he does. "I don't have the resources". That's alright, he owns it all. "Well the medical report says, 'no way'". God has the final say; he says, "Yes way".
It may be cloudy in your life, but I can sense in my spirit, those clouds are about to open up. You need to get ready you are close to a breakthrough, it's going to happen sooner than you think. You're about to see some suddenlies. Now do your part and let the sun shine into your life. Have this attitude of faith: go out each day with expectancy. If you do this I believe and declare light is about to come bursting in, healing, favor, promotion, breakthroughs, unexpected sunshine is coming your way in Jesus' name.