Joel Osteen — Not Fainting In Your Mind
I want to talk to you today about not fainting in your mind. We all face opposition and things that come against us, and it's easy to get discouraged and give up on what we're believing for, and sometimes we feel alone, like nobody knows what we're going through, nobody is supporting us, and we get weary and faint in our mind.
But in the book of Hebrews, it talks about the heroes of faith and all the amazing things they accomplished. It wasn't easy, they endured hardships, they were mistreated, they had plenty of opportunities to give up. But they stayed faithful and fulfilled their purpose, and chapter 12 says, "Seeing that we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us run the race that's set before us".
This passage paints the picture of a huge stadium up in heaven with a race taking place. The people in the grandstands are the saints of old, the great cloud of witnesses. These heroes of faith are looking down at us, cheering us on. You are not running alone. All of heaven is rooting for you, not just the heroes of faith, but your loved ones that have gone before you. Relatives that you've never met. Great-great-great grandmothers, grandfathers, they're watching you right now, saying, "You go, boy. You go, girl. Life may be tough, but you've got what it takes. We believe in you".
When you're tempted to faint in your mind, you need to by faith look up and see them cheering you on. I can see David saying, "That giant may look big, that obstacle may look impossible. I know how you feel, but can I tell you God can do the impossible. You may not think you have what you need, all I had was a slingshot and a few stones. People told me I wasn't qualified, I didn't have the experience. My family tried to talk me out of it, my brothers made fun of me. But despite all the opposition, God breathed on me and I became a giant killer. Stay encouraged, you can defeat your giants". David is cheering you on. He's saying, "The giant may be big, but our God is bigger. Don't faint in your mind".
Maybe you're facing an illness, you don't see how you can get well. It's been years, you're tempted to settle where you are and think that's your lot in life. I hear a young lady in the grandstands, saying, "Don't lose hope. I was sick for 18 years. I couldn't stand up, I was bent over with pain. The doctors couldn't help me. I tried everything, but it didn't work out, and just when I thought it was permanent, I went to the temple one day. Out of a huge crowd of people, Jesus called my name. He said, 'woman, you are free from this sickness.' Immediately I could stand up. All the pain left. From that day forward, I could walk, I could run, I was perfectly well".
Now, nobody else may be encouraging you. Every other voice may be negative, telling you how you're not going to get better. You feel alone, isolated. Look up, this lady is saying, "God did it for me, he can do it for you". She's cheering you on. Moses is up in those grandstands right now, rooting for us. He's saying, "You may have made mistakes, you may have blown it, so did i. I thought I missed my destiny. I thought I was done. But at 80 years old, God showed up in a burning bush. He said, 'Moses, it's not too late. I haven't forgotten about you. It's time to deliver the Israelites.' After all those years where I felt like a failure, guilty, condemned, God still used me to fulfill my purpose". You may be sitting on the sidelines of life, feeling disqualified, guilty. Moses is saying, "Get back in the game. God's mercy is bigger than those mistakes. You can still become who you were created to be".
People may write you off, but God never writes you off. You hear those voices telling you, "You've blown it. You missed your chance". That means you're listening to the wrong voices. You have to understand you have home field advantage. In the grandstands of heaven, where you're running, everyone is for you. The saints of old, your loved ones in the stands, your relatives, they're not condemning you, thinking, "Boy, I knew they couldn't get it right. They never do anything good". That means you're in the wrong stadium. The enemy has a stadium filled with accusers, condemners, discouragers. Don't go there. That's the opponent's stadium. Your game is being played on the home field. Everyone in these stands is pulling for you. The scripture says, "Look up, for your redemption draws nigh".
When you're tempted to get discouraged, look up and hear the cheers from the heavenly saints. When you know someone is cheering for you, it gives you an edge. You can run a little faster, jump a little higher, withstand a little more pressure. Statistics even show in basketball, having the home court advantage results in 15 extra points for the home team. The court is the same size, the rules are the same. Technically, nothing is different, but there's something intangible that gives you an advantage. If you played sports, when you know your parents are in the stands or you have friends there cheering you on, that gives you an extra boost.
My father traveled a lot when I was growing up and he couldn't attend many of my basketball games, but I remember in this one game, I was in the seventh grade. The game was about to start, and I saw my father come walking in the gym. I didn't know he was coming. I was pleasantly surprised. For some reason that day, my father decided to wear shorts. He had not worn shorts his whole life. His legs were whiter than the glory of God, they were blinding people. Not only that, he didn't have any tennis shoes, so he wore his black dress shoes with black socks.
I didn't tell anyone we were related, but knowing my father was there, I played harder, I scored more points. They say white men can't jump. That day, I got in the air. I did things that even surprised me, all because I knew someone was watching me, someone was cheering for me. I wanted to make them proud. Even now, when I'm tempted to get discouraged or tempted to think an obstacle is too big, I just imagine that my father is still watching me. He's in the grandstands of heaving, saying, "Come on, Joel, I lived in my day. This is your day. Show them what you have. Be strong. Take big steps. Pray bold prayers. Shine brightly".
There are people in heaven right now cheering you on. Relatives that have gone before you, they're rooting for you, saying, "Do something great. Make us proud. Run with purpose". When those voices whisper, "You're alone. It doesn't matter, just settle where you are," by faith you need to hear your loved ones cheering you on.
My grandfather on my mother's side of the family had a rough childhood. His mother died when he was five. Three years later, his father came home from working out in the woods with a terrible pain in his side. They took him by horse and buggy to a hospital four hours away. The middle of the night, my grandfather received a telegram saying that his father had died. The next day, he and his uncle went to the train station to pick up his body.
I can imagine what was going through my grandfather's mind. As an eight-year-old little boy, riding a horse with his father in a casket behind him, wondering who would take care of him, where would he live, so uncertain of his future. Nobody really wanted my grandfather. He was passed from house to house. His uncle made him live out in the barn, didn't treat him like his own child.
Granddaddy left home at 16 and joined a bridge gang. Eventually, he got a job at a refinery. He worked for Humboldt Oil, now Exxon, for 40 years. He never missed a day of work. He was faithful, he endured hardships, he overcame injustice. At Exxon, they had a program where you could take part of your salary in stock. All of his friends took their whole salary in cash, spend it each week, but granddaddy took the stock option and never touched it. The most he ever made was $14,000 a year. But when he retired, the dividends from his stock each year were four times more than he ever made. He would come up to the old church and do odd jobs. I would see him under the portable buildings, fixing the plumbing. He built his own house for $2600 and lived there for 60 years.
I think about how my grandfather made it with so much less than I have. He didn't have a good childhood, didn't have parents to guide him, he didn't have an education. Yet he overcame all these obstacles and still went on to fulfill his purpose and leave our family better than it was before. If my grandfather could make it through all that he went through, surely I could make it through what comes against me. Our ancestors, our relatives, they made it without electricity, without automobiles, without medical treatments that we have, without Netflix. If they didn't faint in their mind, if they made sacrifices to put us ahead, surely we can do it.
"Well, I'm irritated because my cell phone dropped a call". They would ask, "What's a cell phone? You mean you can talk to people like that"? "Traffic was bad, I got stuck sitting in my car". They'd ask, "What's a car? You mean you can travel in comfort"? Are you complaining about things that they would've dreamed to have? In comparison to what they've been through, most of what we face are light afflictions.
Some of you have relatives that suffered great injustice because of their nationality, because of the color of their skin. They were mistreated, seen as second class, not valued, not respected. They endured all that hardship without getting bitter. Working in the fields with no pay, they didn't complain. While they suffered, they sang hymns. They didn't have freedom, but it didn't stop their praise. They didn't live defeated. They kept thanking God, knowing that he was in control and that justice was coming.
We are living in the day they dreamed about. They went through too much for you to settle where you are. They sacrificed too greatly for you to give up on what God put in your heart. They're up in those grandstands watching you, saying, "Run, baby, run". That's why we worked, so that you could excel, so that you could write that book, so that you could teach that class, so that you could start that business, so that you could own your company, so you could go further. If you don't do it for yourself, do it for those that went before you. They handed you the baton.
All the sacrifices they've made have put us further down the road. The way we honor their legacies is to go further, to dream bigger, to take new ground, and sure life can be difficult, but it's nothing compared to what they endured, with what my grandfather went through, with what I've seen my parents sacrifice. I feel too responsible to settle where I am, to just rest in what they accomplished, to just go as far as they did. We're supposed to leave our families better off than they were before.
Hebrews 11 says all these heroes of faith, the saints of old, even though they did their best, none of them received all that God promised. They didn't see the fullness of what God had in store. But since Jesus has come, we are the generation under the New Covenant. We're living in a better day. We are seeing the fulfillment of what they only dreamed about. How this should stir us up to stay passionate, to believe big, to take new ground. It's easy to let these light afflictions discourage us, somebody's talking about us, trouble at work, we didn't get the contract. Quit letting those light things keep you with running with purpose.
When life gets tough, look up and listen up. You'll hear your loved ones cheering you on. You'll hear the saints of old saying, "This is your day. Stay strong, you are well able". My father was raised during the great depression. He grew up with no money, no opportunity. He didn't have a car, he had to hitchhike. He kept taking steps of faith and God opened bigger doors. One church where he pastored, after years of building it, sowing into the people, some of them didn't like his new message of faith and victory, and they asked him to leave. He was heartbroken. It wasn't fair, but he didn't complain. He and my mother went out and started Lakewood. They didn't have a big building, they didn't have a former Compaq Center. They found an old rundown feed store, had holes in the floor, dirty, smelly.
Compared to my father, compared to my grandfather, I have it so much easier. Yes, I faced opposition, but nobody's asked me to leave the church. If you're thinking about it, forget it. My father worked too hard, my grandfather sacrificed too much for me to get discouraged and settle where I am. The last ten years of my father's life, he didn't feel healthy. Many Sundays, he would come to church dizzy from the blood pressure medicine that he took. He hadn't slept the night before, and I would always go seem him before the service and, "Daddy, do you want a break today? We can find somebody else to minister". That never entered his mind. He preached whether he felt like it or not.
When he went to be with the Lord and I took over, he put me 40 years down the road. He left us that 8,000-seat auditorium debt-free. When we needed to make an initial payment to secure the Compaq Center, the money was in the bank. I thought, "Thank you, daddy". If he could do it in his day, not feeling well, not having resources growing up, not having people support him, how much more should I be able to do?
In the same way, your relatives have sacrificed greatly for you to be where you are. They endured hardships, worked when they didn't feel like it, overcame things that should've stopped them. They paid a high price. Now, do your part and honor them by taking new ground. Our attitude should be, "I am not going to let these light afflictions stop me. I am not going to live passive and just coast on what's been passed down to me. I'm going to stretch to new levels. I'm going to make my loved ones proud".
"Well, Joel, I don't come from a godly heritage. My relatives, my parents, they didn't believe". You wouldn't be where you are if somebody in your family line didn't honor God. None of us got to where we are on our own. Somebody prayed for you. Somebody made sacrifices. Somebody lived a life of integrity. It may have been a great- great-great grandfather you never met, but he gave, he served, he helped others, he mentored young men. Or a grandmother that lived 100 years ago, you never heard her name, but she prayed for her family line. She taught Sunday School. She was an example to those young ladies. Now, you're reaping from the seeds they've sown.
You didn't get here by accident. In the scripture, God showed favor to one of David's relatives 305 years after David was gone. His relative made a mistake, he was in trouble. God said in affect, "I'm going to show you mercy. I'm going to turn this around not for your sake, but for your relative David's sake". I realized I'm reaping a harvest from seeds that I didn't plant. I'm blessed because my grandfather honored God. I'm where I am in part because my parents kept God first place.
There are people that you've never met that have made your life easier. They put you further down the road. Now, they're cheering you on. The way you honor them is by going further, by taking new ground. Think of these heroes of faith. They didn't have a Bible like we do today. They didn't have promises in writing to stand on like we can. They didn't know how it was all going to turn out, yet they chose to believe. They made it through the desert without a podcast encouraging them, without a grocery store. They made it to the Promised Land without GPS, without Siri, without airplanes. They did it without the conveniences that we have. Imagine what you and I can do. This is our day to set a new standard.
Here's the key, the heroes of faith are not just in the Bible, I am looking at heroes of faith. If the Bible was written today, your name could be in there. You've overcome obstacles that look too big. Like David, you've defeated giants. Like the lady that was healed after 18 years, some of you, God has healed you and given you your life back. My mother would be in the heroes of faith. Cancer said that she was done in 1981. Medical science said she didn't have a chance, but God said, "I have the final say. You will live and not die". She's a living example of God's goodness.
My challenge to you is become a hero of faith. Do something great. Leave your mark. Let your talent shine. Overcome what seems impossible. You may not see how it can happen, but you have generations cheering you on. You have saints that you've read about, thought how amazing they are, how faithful, how dedicated. Those same saints are calling your name, saying, "Dream big. Keep stretching. Keep believing. We want to read about you".
Imagine every morning if you received a personal text from Abraham, from David, from Moses, Ruth, Esther, Noah. When you woke up, there was a message from them saying how they believe in you, how you are well able. That would do something to you. It'd put a spring in your step. It would cause you to have more confidence. Those people carry some weight. I've received a few texts from some influential people, but if Abraham were to text me, I would run, tell Victoria, "You're not going to believe it, I just got a text from Abraham". "What did he say"? "He said he believes in me, that he's cheering me on". That would help me to do better that day.
I wouldn't get discouraged because I had opposition. I wouldn't give up because I had a setback. Can I tell you it's not just Abraham, all of heaven is cheering for you. The grandstands are packed with people who believe in you, people who have been where you are and made it through. You may feel like you're surrounded by opposition, everything has come against you.
I see Elisha step out of the grandstands and say, "Been there, done that. One night, this enemy army surrounded me and my assistant, tens of thousands of horses and chariots. My assistant panicked. He thought we were done. But when I looked out through my eyes of faith, I could see a vast host of the heavenly armies surrounding all those enemy forces". Elisha would tell you, "Stay in faith. That addiction may look like it has you surrounded. The truth is God has it surrounded". That sickness, the debt, the depression may be surrounding you, but Elisha is cheering you on, saying, "Don't worry, God is surrounding what's surrounding you".
Maybe you prayed for God to turn a situation around, but it didn't happen. Thoughts tell you, "It's too late. It's never going to work out. Why didn't God answer your prayers"? I see three men step out of the grandstands of heaven. Their names are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They say, "We know how you feel. We wouldn't bow down to the king's golden idol. He told us he was going to throw us into a fiery furnace. We prayed, we asked God to deliver us. We didn't want to go into the furnace, but God didn't answer our prayer the way we wanted. We were tempted to get upset, to complain. Instead, we decided to trust him. We told the king, 'even if God doesn't deliver us, we're still not going to bow down.' When he threw us into the furnace, the funny thing is the fire didn't burn us. It only burned off the cords that were holding us back. In the middle of the fire, out of nowhere, the Son of the living God showed up".
Their encouragement is you may be in the fire, stay in faith. You are fireproof. That fire is not going to harm you. God is right there with you. Keep believing, keep doing the right thing. Like them, you are going to come out without the smell of smoke. Are you fainting in your mind, giving up on a dream, talking yourself out of doing something great? God is saying, "Get your passion back. Your relatives, the saints of old, they've gone through too much for you to settle where you are".
When you're tempted to get discouraged, look up and listen up. All of heaven is cheering for you. In that stadium, there are signs with your picture on them, people calling your name, saying, "Run, baby, run". Make your loved ones proud. God has ordained that every generation increase. They did great things with what they had, but let's honor them by going further. Let's leave this generation better than it was before. If you'll do this, I'll believe and declare you're not going to just be cheered on by heroes of faith, you're going to become a hero of faith. You're going to rise higher, accomplish dreams, and leave your mark on this generation in Jesus's name.