Joel Osteen - Be Comfortable Not Knowing
I want to talk to you today аbout: be comfortable not knowing. We all face situations where we don't see how they're going to work out. We look at the facts, the figures, the reports, the odds are against us. We do our best to come up with a plan to find some kind of solution, we think we have to have the answer or it's not going to happen. But there are some things God doesn't want us now, he has the solution, but if he showed you right now, it wouldn't take anything. If you could see how your child is going to turn out and the doors God's going to open for you, the favor, the provision, the healing, it would be easy to believe. The test comes when we don't know the answer, when we don't see how it's going to happen.
Thoughts tell us, "How are you going to make it after you retire? What if you don't get that scholarship? What if your health doesn't improve". The problem is, sometimes there is no logical solution. The more we try to reason it out, the more discouraged we get, thinking, "What am I going to do?", but this is what faith is all about, you have to be comfortable not knowing. You don't have to figure it out, you don't have to come up with the plan, it's okay not to know.
When Moses led the two million Israelites out of slavery into the desert they were headed toward the Promised Land, very excited, God had just brought them out of years of captivity. I can imagine someone asking Moses, "Where are we going to camp in the desert"? Moses said, "I don't know where are we going to get food. I don't know where is the water supply. I don't know". "Moses, what route are we going to take"? "I don't know". They could have thought, "Moses, what kind of leader are you"? But just because you don't know, doesn't mean God doesn't have a plan. Moses was comfortable not knowing, he had such a trust in God, he didn't have to understand how everything was going to work out. He didn't have to have all the details, he took it one step at a time.
And sometimes we think it's a lack of faith to say: I don't know. We think we have to have it all figured out. Take the pressure off, you don't have to know, knows. He has it in the palm of his hand, he's directing your stairs. The scripture says, "God has planned out all of your days, he has a blueprint for your life". Here's the catch: God doesn't give us the details, if he showed you all he has in store, you'd not only be amazed, it would not only excite you, but when you saw what it would take to get there, the giants are going to face, the closed doors, the times you have to stretch, you might say, "That's okay, God, I'll stay where I am". One reason God doesn't show us is he knows we would talk ourselves out of it.
When you can't figure out how something is going to work out, you start worrying, losing sleep, that's a sign God doesn't want you to know. You have to be comfortable not knowing. When you say, "God, I don't see how my business is going to make it. I don't see how my family is going to be restored. I don't know how I'm going to raise these children, but I'm not going to live stressed, worried. God, I trust you when I don't see you away. I trust you when I don't have the answer. I realize, I don't have to know, because you know and you control the universe". That attitude of faith is what allows God to do amazing things.
See the truth is God had the solution before you had the problem. He could show you the details, he could show you how it's going to resolve. If he's not, then it's a test, he doesn't want you to know right now. Will you trust him even when you don't see how it could happen? I'm the type of person that wants to know, I like to have a plan, I'm detailed, organized, I'm always trying to figure things out. When I don't see a way, I used to get stressed, I was tempted to live uptight, on edge. It's very freeing when you learn this principle, that there are some things we're not supposed to know. It's okay to say like Moses, "I don't know how it's going to work out, but I'm at peace".
That's not a lack of faith, it's just the opposite, you're taking yourself off the throne and putting God back on the throne. But when we're trying to figure everything out, come up with our plan, "If I could make this happen and manipulate this situation, convince this person to like me", really we're being God. As long as you're on the throne, God will step back, but when you say, "God, I don't know how this is going to work out, but I'm not going to worry, I'm not going to keep trying to figure it out. God, I trust you, I know your plans for me are for good". When you're comfortable not knowing, God will make things happen that you couldn't make happen.
When we acquired this building the former Compaq Center, it was going to cost a hundred million dollars to renovate: we had to put in our own power plant air-conditioning system. When I looked at the numbers on paper there was no way we could raise those funds in that amount of time. We ran the projections, analyzed it, even in the best case scenarios we were still millions short. Every day I was tempted to worry, every day thought said, "What are you going to do? It's not going to work out". We had already signed the loan, construction had already started.
On a certain day, right before we moved in, we had to make this large lump sum payment. We didn't have it there wasn't any sign we would get it. And the closer we came to that day, the more pressured I fell. But when I was tempted to be stressed, I would always come back to this fact, "God, I know you gave us this building. I saw you changed council members mind to vote for us that had been against. I know it was your favor that opened the door and I know you didn't bring us this far to leave us. And I don't know how it's going to happen, but I'm okay not knowing how, because I know you are still on the throne". Two weeks before the big payment was due we unexpectedly sold a piece of property. We were told it would sell for a certain price, it sold for almost twice that amount. It was the hand of God stepping in at just the right time, making a way, where we didn't see a way.
You may have some things you don't understand, you can't figure out, you don't see the answer - that's okay, you don't have to see it. Don't get discouraged, don't start complaining, God is working behind the scenes, he's about to make things happen that you didn't see coming. It's going to be unusual, out of the ordinary, you're going to know: it's the goodness of God.
Moses didn't have all the answers, he didn't know how the Israelites would make it through the desert, but God gave them manna to eat each morning, something like bread that formed on the ground. God brought water out of a rock, unusual, uncommon. God brought the walls of Jericho down not by them fighting, but by them simply Marching around them. Supernatural provision, supernatural protection.
What am I saying? Just because you don't have the answers doesn't mean God is not going to show up and do something amazing in your life. Now my challenge is: trusting when you don't understand, be comfortable not knowing. The scripture says in proverbs 3:5, "Lean not to your own understanding". Take this in the right sense, but sometimes you have to turn your mind off, don't try to figure everything out. Yes, use wisdom, use common sense, but when you start getting frustrated, you can't find a solution, you're tempted to live worried, that's God doesn't want you to know.
My father pastored Lakewood for 40 years. He never raised up a successor like most churches do, he didn't have a committee go out and find the next pastor. Deep down I believe daddy knew what was going to happen, he always wanted his family to take over, but there wasn't anything formally put in place. When he was in his 70s people would ask him: who's going to take Lakewood? What's going to happen when you're gone? My father would always tell them: I don't know what's going to happen, but I know this, God is not going to let it go down. He would tell people: it's not my church, it's God's church. And I'm all for have instructions, having a plan, but God's ways are not our ways, he doesn't do it the same way every time. Sometimes he doesn't want you to know, it's a test of your faith. Will you trust him or will you live worried, upset, wondering if it's ever going to work out?
When my father died I had only ministered one time, the week before he passed. But when he went to be with the Lord I knew, I was supposed to step up and pastor the church. I never had the desire before, but suddenly God put that desire in me. Had my father tried to make me the pastor before he died, I wouldn't have done it. What may be the normal way, may not be the way God does it for you. God didn't show my father who the next pastor was. He could have lived frustrated, tried to make things happen, but my father was comfortable not knowing. He knew God was in control, he trusted his plan.
God may not be showing you the future, but that doesn't mean it's not going to turn out better than you've imagined. I'm sure, my father is looking down from heaven now with the big smile, saying: look what the Lord has done. It's more than he ever dreamed. When you're comfortable not knowing it saves you so much stress. When you understand: if you can't figure something out, it's because God doesn't want you to figure it out right now. You can analyze the situation, reason it out, worry for six months, nothing's going to change. It's much better to say: "I don't have the answer, but I'm okay, because God, I know you have the answer".
Paul said in Romans 8:26, "We know not what to pray". Here's a man that wrote almost half of 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, I have uncertainty, things I don't understand, things I don't know how they're going to work out. The reason Paul could say this and not be worried, bitter, "God, why isn't it happening? When is it going to work out?", is found two verses later. He said in verse 26: "We know not", but in verse 28 he said: "We know all things work together for good to them that love the Lord". The way you can say we know not and not be worried is if you know, all things are working for you good. I know not how this is going to work out, but I do know who's on the throne, I do know who's directing our steps, I do know who's planned out our days. Are you frustrated over what you don't know, about what you can't figure out? Have a new perspective, even Paul said: I know not. It's okay to not have the answers.
One time Paul and his friend Silas were in prison. They had been out sharing the good news, hadn't done anything wrong, but people stirred up opposition had them arrested. They were put in the deepest part of the dungeon with shackles on their feet. They didn't know if they'd ever get out, if they'd have a fair trial or if they'd be put to death like the disciple James. They had all these questions, that they didn't have answers to, things that were out of their control. I'm sure thoughts told them, "It's not going to turn out good. You've seen your best days".
They could have lived worried, bitter, frustrated, but at midnight, instead of complaining they were singing praises and giving thanks to God. Their attitude was, "We know not how this is going to work out, but we know this, God is in control, people can't stop our destiny, him being for us is more than the world being against us". While were they were singing praises in the middle of the night, suddenly there was a great earthquake. Prison doors flung open, chains fell off their feet, they walked out as free men.
You may not see how your situation can work out: the odds are against you, you've come up with the different options, nothing looks good to you. You too could live frustrated, worried. No, be still and know that he is God. You don't have to be God, you don't have to figure it out, he's on the throne, he has the solution. The reason we can't see it is because we think natural, but God is supernatural, he's going to make things happen out of the ordinary, things that you can't see. It's very powerful when you can say: "I know not where the finances are coming from. I know not how my child's would get on the right course. I know not what the future holds, but I do know God is on the throne, he's fighting my battles, his plans for me or for good. What he started in my life, he we'll finish".
You don't have to know how as long as you know who is in control, that's when the Creator of the universe will open doors you couldn't open, break chains that have held you back, bring dreams to pass that seemed impossible. When you know not, do like Paul and Silas, don't sit around depressed, keep thanking God that he's working, keep talking like it's on the way, keep that song of praise in your heart, keep being good to people, keep doing the right thing. Don't let what you don't know and what you can't see keep your faith from being released.
But when we face these difficulties, when we don't see an answer, many times there's a voice constantly whispering, "What are you going to do? What are you going to do?", trying to pressure us, get us to live uptight, stressed out. But when you understand that you don't have to have the answer, that it's not your job to figure it out, when you're comfortable not knowing, it takes the pressure off. Someone says to you, "I heard about your problem, what are you gonna do"? Our answer should be, "I don't know, but I know the one who does".
It's okay not to know, you have to be at peace with what you know not. If there's something you don't have an answer to in your health, your finances, your relationships, you would normally spend worried, trying to figure it out, take that same time and start thanking God that he's working, thank him that he's making your crooked places straight, thanking that what's meant for harm he's turning to your advantage, thank him that all things are working for you good. You weren't created to live uptight, worried, pressured. Sometimes we're bringing this on ourselves, trying to figure something out, that God doesn't want us to figure out right now.
I met a man that had been in a legal battle for over 10 years. It involves several different parties, things were moving so slowly. If it didn't turn out in his favor, he was going to lose his freedom. He went through every possible scenario. For years if he wasn't at the office, he was at home working on his case with his legal team.
After about five years of living stressed, worried, not enjoying his family, having this hanging over his head, he did what I'm asking us to do, he said, "God, I don't see a solution, I don't see a logical answer, so I'm going to quit trying to figure it out, I'm going to stop worrying. God, I'm turning this over to you". He took himself off the throne and put God back on the throne. Instead of worrying, he started thanking God that he was fighting his battles and thanking him that no weapon formed against him would prosper.
About eight months ago he received word out of the blue, that the other parties dropped the lawsuit. All the complaints against him were dismissed. He said, "Joel, I never even fathom this, it wasn't even one of my options. I was just praying that God would help me win the trial, that I'd have favor with the authorities". God's ways are better than your ways, what God has in mind is much better than what you have in mind.
Now, don't be discouraged about what you don't know, about what you can't figure out, you don't know what God is up to, it's going to surprise you. Like this man, problems suddenly resolved in your favor, the medical report says, "No way", but God makes a way. You don't see how you could get out of debt, an explosive blessing, a contract, a promotion, something that trusts you ahead, it's going to happen out of the ordinary. That's why you can't see it now, that's why you can't find the answer, God's going to do it a supernatural way, you're going to see the exceeding greatness of his favor, something that you weren't expecting.
God told Abraham to leave his country and go to a land that he would show him. It's interesting that God didn't tell him where. I could imagine Abraham told his wife Sarah that they were moving, Sarah said, "Great, that's exciting, where are we going"? Abraham said, "I don't know". "Well, what should I wear"? "I don't know". "What's the weather going to be like"? "I don't know". Abraham would have never become the father of our faith, if he had not been comfortable not knowing.
When you study the other heroes of faith, you'll see how many times they had to say: we know not. David: I know not how I'm going to defeat this giant, he's twice my size, but I know the Lord is on my side. Joseph, sitting in a pit, betrayed by his family: I know not how I'm going to lead a nation like the dream God gave me, but God, I trust your plan. The way they stayed in faith, is they knew verse 28 so to speak, that all things were working for their good. When they didn't have the answers, they believed that God was still in control.
God gave Abraham the promise that he and his wife Sarah were going to have a baby, even when they were very old. Years passed with no sign of a 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 gave birth at 90 years of age, God did more than they dreamed. That little baby, they named him Isaac, he grew to be a young man and God told Abraham to take him on top of a mountain and sacrifice him. They traveled three days, finally arrived at the location. Isaac said: "Dad we have the fire, we have the wood, but where is the sacrifice"? Abraham said, "The Lord will provide". It didn't make sense that God would give Abraham a son, this child he waited so long for and then tell him to take his life. Don't you know, Abraham was confused, no doubt, he had uncertainties, but the Abraham's attitude was: "God, I don't know what you're doing, but I trust you".
This is a key to faith: trusting, when you don't understand, trusting when you don't have the answers, trusting when it seems like just the opposite of what you were hoping for. This is when it's easy to get negative, critical, "God, why's it and working out"? Not knowing is a test. What you do when you don't know, when it seems impossible, that determines what God does. And Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, when an angel suddenly stopped him. He looked over and saw a ram caught in the bush. Rams don't normally go that high up in the mountain. Abraham sacrificed the ram instead of his son. He named that place Jehovah jireh, that means the Lord our provider.
God is showing us: when you pass the test of not knowing, supernatural provision is coming. 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 have the baby, how you could get well or see how you could accomplish the dream. You don't have to see it for God to do it, you don't have to have all the answers. What God has spoken over your life is still on the way. Just like that ram was way up in the mountain, God has provision coming for you, something that wouldn't normaly happening, something out of the ordinary: favor, promotion, divine connections.
Because you trusted when you didn't understand, God's going to do things for you, that you can't explain, promotion that you didn't work for, having a baby when you were told it's too late, getting well when the medical report said: you were done. Seeing your business take off, seeing your family restored. What is that? The ram in the thicket. When you obey without the details, when you stay in the faith when you don't see any sign of the answer, when you believe when every thought tells you there's no way, like with Abraham God will show out in your life, he'll cause you to defy the odds, to go places you couldn't go on your own.
Now I'm asking you to be comfortable not knowing. Quit worrying about those things you can't figure out, God had you in the palm of his hand. There may be some things you have to say: "I know not", but don't stop there, go to more verses and say with Paul, "I know all things are working for my good". If you'll do this, I believe and declare, you're about to see this supernatural provision, supernatural protection, favore, healing, divine connections. God is not going to just bring promises to pass, but like that man I talked about, it's going to turn out better than you imagine, in Jesus name.