Joel Osteen - Believing When You're Not Seeing
I want to talk to you today аbout: Believing When You're Not Seeing. It's easy to believe when things are going our way, we're getting good breaks, our health is improving, out child is turning around. When you can see it it doesn't take much faith. The test comes when you can't see any sign of what you're believing for. You're working hard, but doors aren't opening. You're praying, but the medical report isn't improving. You're doing the right thing, but your marriage isn't getting better. You know God put the promise in your heart, you know he gave you the dream, but there's no sign that it's happening. If you just saw a little improvement, if you just felt a little better, at least you would know that what you were doing was helping, but many times before a promise comes to pass you have to go through a season of silence, where you're not seeing anything changing.
You'll be tempted to think: "Is what I'm doing even working? Is my believing, my praying, my giving even making a difference"? This is when many people get discouraged and quit give up on what they're believing for. But just because you don't see anything happening doesn't mean God is not working. Behind the scenes things are changing that you can't see. God does much of his work in secret: you can't see him lining up the people you need, you can't see him arranging good breaks for you, you can't see him sending the angel with your promise, putting the healing, the promotion, the vindication on your schedule. All you can see is "Joel, I'm praying and nothing's happening. I'm doing my best, but nothing's improving" - you're in a season of silence.
The question is: are you going to get discouraged and quit believing because you're not seeing? Or are you going to dig your heels in and say, "God, I may not see anything happening, but I'm not moved by what I see, I'm moved by what I know. And I know what you promise me is on the way". If you'll stay in faith, at some point you're going to see what God was doing behind the scenes, suddenly things are going to shift in your favor. What happened? You saw what God was up to all those months, even years you didn't think anything was happening, behind the scenes things were coming together.
And sometimes it hasn't happened yet, because another person involved is not ready, God is working on someone else who's a part of your story. Or when that obstacle wasn't changing, you didn't realize it, but God was using the obstacle to change you. You were growing, getting stronger, developing patience. If he would have removed it sooner, you wouldn't be prepared for where he's taking you. But the scripture says, "Don't get weary in well-doing for in due season you will reap if you faint not". It doesn't say, "You may reap", "There's a good chance you'll reap". God says, "If you won't get tired of doing the right thing, if you won't let what you see talk you out of what you know, then your due season is coming, you will reap if you don't faint".
But God wouldn't have told us to not get weary in well-doing, if he didn't know it would be easy to get tired of doing what's right, it's easy to get worn down, think it's never going to work out: my marriage is never going to make it, my business is never going to grow. No, get your fire back, your due season is closer than you think.
In the scripture it compares the life of a believer to an eagle. When a mother eagle is going to have a baby eaglet, she lays an egg. For 35 days she has to sit on the egg to keep it warm. She never feels the baby eaglet kick, the egg never grows any larger, there's no sign that what's on the inside of the egg is alive. The mother eagle could think, "If it was alive at least it would move a little bit, at least I would hear something", but day after day the mother eagle sits unmoved by what she doesn't feel, unmoved by what's not changing. On the 35th day, after no signs of life, suddenly the little eaglet starts pecking out of the shell, before long it hatches healthy and whole.
But think about the faith it takes for that mother eagle to sit on an egg that seems dead. Unlike a person, when a lady is going to have a baby, we have all these signs: their stomach gets bigger, their feet may swell, their back may hurt, they may get meaner... I mean they may have morning sickness, their womb begins to grow - over time it's obvious you can see the baby is developing.
When Victoria was pregnant with Jonathan, we were driving down the road and I turned on some music. Just like clockwork he started kicking in the womd, like he was keeping beat to the music. You could see a leg coming out here and elbow coming out there: we had no doubt that he was coming. Those last six months we never once thought, "I wonder if he's in there, I wonder if he's alive". We didn't have to wonder, we could see it.
If God brought promises to pass like a person giving birth, it would be no problem to stay in faith, it would be easy to thank him that it was on the way. But most of the time it won't be like a person, it will be like an eagle. You're going to have to believe something is happening when you can't see any sign of it, you're going to have to sit on that promise, believing, expecting, praying, thanking, when you're not getting any kicks, when you're not seeing any growth, when the egg is not moving, you don't hear any sounds - deep down you have to know, something is happening that you can't see.
After a couple of weeks the mother eagle could think, "I'm wasting my time. By now something should be happening. I don't see any sign that what's in this egg is alive". But there's something in her DNA, something put in her by the Creator that says, "I don't have to see a sign, I don't have to feel a kick, I know my baby is alive, I know my due season is coming, I know on the 35th day this baby eaglet is going to hatch". You may have promises that you've been standing on for a long time, dreams God has put in your heart, every circumstance says, "It's never going to happen. What you're believing for is dead. It would have kicked by now, you would have seen some improvement, some growth". No, don't believe those lives, keep sitting on that egg, keep thanking God that it's coming, keep talking like it's on the way, keep expecting things to change in your favor.
Our attitude should be: "What God promised me may look dead, but I know, like that eagle, what he put in my spirit is still alive. It doesn't have to kick, I'm not moved by what I feel, I'm not moved by how long it's taking, by what's not working out, I know: what God started in my life he's going to finish". What am I saying? Quit being discouraged because you haven't felt to kick - nothing is wrong, that doesn't mean it's not going to happen. You have to trust the process: while you're waiting things are growing, things are developing, God is bringing it together, he works in secret. You may not see any improvement, you may not see what God is up to.
If the mother eagle could pick a little hole in the shell and see her baby, it would be so much easier to believe, "I saw him, he's in there. Now I can sit on this egg with confidence". The problem is, the eaglet wouldn't survive. Some things have to develop in the dark, in secret. If you could see the promise coming, if God showed us what he was up to - yes, it wouldn't be as difficult to believe, but that wouldn't take any faith. You have to believe when there's no sign on the outside, that what's on the inside is still alive. The promise God put in you, that egg so to speak is not going to move, not going to grow, not going to kick - you may not see any signs of life until the 35th day, until your due season, when suddenly that baby eaglet is going to hatch.
But there's something God has put in your DNA, where you can believe when every circumstance says "It's not going to happen". The odds may be against you today, your dream seems impossible, the medical reports are not improving, you've struggled with the addiction for years - looks like the promise is dead, you're tempted to walk away from the nest, forget about the egg, hasn't seen any signs of life. Well, God is saying, "Go back and sit on it. It is still alive". Don't let the circumstances fool you. Just because you don't see anything happening on the outside, doesn't mean something is not happening on the inside.
"Well, Joel I've never felt my baby kick". It's not going to kick in the egg. God bursts things like an eagle, not like a person. We have to walk by faith and not by sight.
The Israelites were traveling through the desert, headed toward the Promised Land, when they came to the city of Jericho. This was the last city that stood between them and the city of Canaan, the land God promised them. Jericho was surrounded by a huge stone wall. It was so thick, that chariots could ride on top of it. God told Joshua to have the Israelites March around the walls for seven days without saying a word. These two million people went out and once a day started walking around the wall. First day nothing happened, second day nothing. It was hot, dusty, they were already tired, worn out from traveling through the desert. Went around the fourth day - nothing, the fifth time - nothing.
I can imagine they started to get discouraged, thinking "What are we doing out here? We look like fools, nothing is even happening". It wouldn't have been so difficult to believe, if while they were walking around, they saw a little crack in the wall start to form, maybe the fourth time around some of the rocks up top broke apart, the next time around the foundation began to loosen up. If they would have just seen a sign that things were improving, something to encourage them, a little crack here and there, but nothing was changing. They were sitting on that egg, doing what God asked him to do, walking around the city, not complaining.: they were doing their part why wasn't God doing his part? God works in secret, in that egg you can't see the eaglet developing.
The Israelites didn't like it, they were uncomfortable, but here's the key: they kept doing the right thing, they didn't get weary in well-doing. On the seventh day, the seventh time around, still no sign of the wall weakening, still looked just as strong, sturdy, like it did before they started. But when they completed that seventh lap, suddenly the walls came tumbling down, they came into their due season, their 35th day.
But too often we'll stay in faith if we see the wall cracking, we'll believe if our boss starts treating us better, if our health starts improving. We're waiting for the baby to kick, "God give me a sign, show me something that you're going to turn this around". What I'm saying is: you may not get a sign, that's when you have to dig down deep and say, "Am I going to get up off this egg? Am I going to let what I'm not seeing convince me what I'm believing for is dead, it's too late, the obstacles too big, or am I going to do like the Israelites and keep Marching, even though there is no sign, keep thanking God even though it's not improving, keep expecting even though the baby is not kicking". You keep doing the right thing and your 35th day is coming, what you thought was dead, you didn't see any signs of life, suddenly that baby eaglet is going to burst forth.
A friend of mine that I grew up with was believing to have a baby for many years. She and her husband had tried and tried with no success. We were all standing in faith with her, believing and praying that - no baby. She'd gone to doctors, they told her there was nothing more they could do, she wouldn't be able to have children.
She's a little bit older than I am, and I was in my 40s, I thought "It's too late now and surely she'll accept it and you know, move on, maybe she can adopt, maybe she can do something else with children". That never entered her mind. She was always talking about having a baby. It was never if, it was always when. She even made a baby's room in her house, had it all decorated, ready for the child. She was constantly thanking God, that her baby was on the way, talking like it could happen tomorrow.
She could have easily walked away from the nest, thought "This egg doesn't just look dead, it is dead. Would have happened by now". But when God puts a promise in your heart, you have to have a never-say-die attitude. You may not see how it can happen, it seems too late, you're too old, the obstacles too big, you can come up with a thousand reasons why it's not going to work out. Well, don't talk yourself out of it, do like her: keep thanking God that it's on the way, keep believing when it's not improving, keep sitting on that egg, not move by what's not changing, walking by faith and not by sight.
Twenty years later she walked in one day and said, "I'm pregnant". She wasn't saying it by faith, it was a reality. She not only gave birth to one baby, she gave birth to twins at 53 years old. Now, don't walk away from that nest, don't get discouraged because you haven't felt to kick: God is working, on the inside what you can't see is the promises growing, it's developing. The outside looks the same, you may not see any improvement, but if you will stay in faith, like with her, what God has spoken over you is on the way.
God told Abraham, that he and his wife Sarah was going to have a baby. Sarah had been barren all these years and now they were way too old to have children. But the scripture says, "Abraham considered not the weakness of his own body nor the deadness of Sarah's womb". When Abraham looked at that promise, everything in him said: "It's dead. You're way too old to have a baby". All the circumstances said, "It would never happen". But here's the key: Abraham considered not what looked dead, he wasn't moved by what he saw.
You may have situations, that look like they'll never work out: you don't see how you could get well, how you'll meet the right person, how you'll break the addiction. If you only consider that, you'll get discouraged and quit believing. You have to do like Abraham: don't consider your circumstances, consider your God. I'm sure, many times Abraham was tempted to walk away from the nest, they didn't see any sign of it happening. Year after year went by with no baby. They never felt to kick, never saw Sarah's womb growing. In the meantime Abraham made mistakes, had a baby with another lady, that wasn't the promised child. 25 years after God gave him the promise, God came back to Abraham and said: "Now Sarah is going to have a baby". A year later, at 90 years old she gave birth to a son.
What's interesting is: no one had ever had a baby at that age. It's one thing if you had seen it happen before, if you knew your neighbor had given birth at close to 90 or you saw in the news a lady gave birth at 90, at least you could look back and say, "God you did it for them, I know you can do it for me", at least you would know it was possible. This had never happened, they had no point of reference. God has some things in your future that have never happened, you're going to be the first one in your family to step into new levels of influence, the first one to run a successful business, the first one to break the addiction, the first one to keep your marriage together.
But when we've never seen this, it's easy to dismiss it. "Joel, this egg is never going to hatch. No use praying, believing, expecting, it's never happened before". No, like with Abraham and Sarah, you're about to give birth to something that you've never seen, something that's going to catapult you to a new level, something where people can see: the favor of God is on your life. Now, instead of considering how big your obstacles are, why don't you start considering how big your God is? He flung stars into space, he spoke worlds into existence. What you're up against may seem impossible, but God can do the impossible, he can make things happen that we could never make happen.
Victoria talked to a young lady named Sabrina. At 17 years of age she went in to check on her nine month old son and discovered he wasn't breathing. She grabbed him rushed to the neighbor's house and frantically started doing CPR. Unfortunately, the little boy didn't make it. When the prosecutors saw the bruises on his chest from the CPR, they accused the mother of abuse that caused his death. The neighbors told how that wasn't the case, but they didn't believe them. A year later she was found guilty of taking her son's life and sentenced to death. 18 years of age sitting, in a prison cell 23 hours a day. Did look like she could fulfill her destiny, her dream seemed dead. No woman had ever been released from death row.
Six years later by the grace of God she was granted a new trial. This time the neighbors were able to testify about the CPR. A medical examiner found the little boy had a kidney disease, that he believed caused the death. December of 1995, after six years on death row, a jury found her not guilty, she was completely exonerated and became the first woman ever to be released from death row. Now Sabrina goes around the world, telling her story of the goodness of God and helping others in that same situation.
I'm sure there were plenty of lonely nights in that prison cell, where thoughts told her "You'll never get out, it's never happened before, it's nothing in this egg". You can be the first, you can be the one to set a new standard. Don't be moved by what you don't see, by what you don't have, by who's against you. God being for you is more than the world being against you.
Now maybe you're about to step away from the nest. You know what God's promised you, but it seems impossible, nothing's changing. Surely it would have happened by now. If you walk away, you're going to miss what God is about to do. You are closer than you think, your 35th day is going to happen sooner than it looks. You may not see any sign of it now. When that baby eaglet is in the egg you can't tell when it's about to break out, nothing on the outside looks any different. The shell seems just the same as it's been day after day, but then suddenly when you didn't see it coming, when everything looks the same: the door will open, your health will turn around, the right person will show up. You don't know what God is up to behind the scenes.
I read, where this mother eagle has to keep the temperature of the egg at a hundred and five degrees. If she doesn't maintain that temperature, the eaglet won't develop. So she sits on the egg day after day. She could be out gathering food, building another nest, but she knows: it's vital to keep the egg warm. In the same way, you have to keep your promise in a warm environment. The way you do this is through praise and thanksgiving. "Father, thank you that what you promised me is on the way. The medical report doesn't look good, but Lord, thank you that you're restoring health back unto to me. Business is slow, but I'm not moved by what I see, Lord, thank you that I will lend and not borrow. Thank you that what I touch will prosper and succeed".
Sometimes our promise is taking longer to develop because we're complaining instead of praising. "God, why is this taking so long? When is this ever going to change"? Now you have to get your promise in a warm environment. Like my friend with the baby, for 20 years she sat on that promise, she was constantly thanking God that the baby was coming. Abraham did this: he could have complained, "God we're too old to have a baby. Why don't you find somebody else"?
Well, the scripture says, "Abraham grew strong in faith by giving praise to God". I can hear him all through the day, "God, it looks impossible, but I know you can do the impossible. Thank you that the fruit of Sarah's womb is blessed, thank you that what you promised me, I will become that father of many nations".
Is your promise in a warm environment? Are you keeping it in an atmosphere of faith, a praise, of thanksgiving? You have to maintain the proper temperature for the promise to come to pass. I know many of you have been doing this, you've been faithful year after year, believing when you don't see anything changing. Get ready, your 35th day is coming, God is about to do something unusual, something that's never happened for you.
Now my challenge: don't walk away from the nest, don't get weary in well-doing, keep believing even though you're not seeing. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: what you thought was dead, things you didn't see any improvement, they're about to suddenly come back to life: healing, promotions, breakthroughs, marriages, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.