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Joel Osteen - Find Strength Through Adversity


Joel Osteen - Find Strength Through Adversity

No matter how successful we are, we all face challenges in life. We encounter struggles and times where things don't go our way, but God has a plan. With Him, we can find strength in adversity, allowing struggles to strengthen us instead of weaken us. I'm Joel Osteen. I have good news. No matter where you are or what challenges you're facing, you can start living Your Best Life Now.

God knows your life from the beginning to the end. He knows where the dead ends are, where the shortcuts are, where the bumpy roads are that will cause you heartache and pain. Life is full of things that we don't like. Adversities, disappointments, maybe a friend betrays us, we didn't get the promotion, a door closes. We see these things as being negative, thinking that was bad, didn't work out, my prayers didn't get answered. It's easy to get discouraged and lose our passion, but God won't allow adversity unless he's going to somehow use it for our good. That means everything that happens in life, you may not understand, but if you'll keep the right attitude, it will push you further into your destiny. It will strengthen you.

The closed doors, the delays, that person that did you wrong, God says, it's all good. I'm in control. It may not feel good, but if you'll trust me, I'm going to use it for your good. When you understand this principle, life gets much more freeing. You don't get upset when a coworker plays politics and leaves you out. You know it's all good. God allowed it, and he's going to use it. You tried, and the business didn't make it. You don't give up on your dreams. You know it's all good. It's a part of the process.

Simple things like, you get stuck in traffic. You don't get frustrated, let it ruin your day. You know God is directing your steps. He may be keeping you from an accident. He may be developing patience in you. Whatever it is, keep the right perspective knowing that it's all good. This boils down to trusting God. We're not going to understand everything that happens. If you try to figure it all out, then you'll get frustrated. But God can see the big picture for our lives. He'll close doors that we prayed would open because He knows it's going to be a waste of time. When you're mature, instead of getting bitter when things don't work out, you'll say, God, I trust You. I may not like it, but I believe You know what's best for me.

Some of the things God has in your future, if he gave them to you right now, you couldn't handle it. He loves you too much to let it happen. He's developing your character, growing you up. That boss that gets on your nerves, doesn't treat you right, you keep trying to pray him away. The reason he's not going is because God is using him like sandpaper to rub the rough edges off of you. As you keep doing the right thing, keeping your mouth closed, being respectful, that's doing a work in you. You couldn't develop your character without Him. You may not like it, but it's all good. It's getting you ready for the next level.

God is asking, do you trust me with your closed doors? Do you trust me with your unanswered prayers, with the things you don't understand? I've learned God's ways are better than our ways. Sometimes we're so set on having it our way that we're disappointed if it doesn't happen. The right way to pray is, "God, this is what I want. This is what I'm believing for, but God, You know what's best for me. I trust You". If you're only going to be happy if God answers your prayers the way you want, then you're not really trusting. You're not praying, you're giving God orders. But when you develop this trust, you let God do it His way. You know it's all good. If the door opens, you thank Him. If it doesn't open, you still thank Him. Whatever happens, we can say, it's all good.

This is what the Apostle Paul said in Romans. "All things work together for good for those that love the Lord". Not some things, but all things. Now, they may not be good at the time. It's painful to go through a loss. It hurts when people do us wrong. Discouraging when a dream doesn't work out. By itself, that may not be good, but God promises He's going to bring it all together. One day you'll look back and say that was good.

A friend of mine told me about this couple. Every week, they would go up to the hospital to encourage people. One day, the man had just parked his car and was walking across the street to the main entrance. This car came around the corner speeding, almost out of control, and hit the man. It knocked him up on the hood, over the car, and to the pavement. They rushed him to the emergency room and discovered that he had bleeding on his brain. They had to take a full body scan to see if anything else was injured. They were looking for broken bones or any bleeding. That was all fine, but they noticed a tumor on his kidney. When they did a biopsy, they found it was cancer.

A few days later, after the bleeding stopped, he had surgery to remove the kidney. Everything went fine. Today, he is cancer free. The doctor told him, if they had not found that tumor, there was a good chance it would've spread to other parts of the body and his life would have been threatened. What started out as a horrible car wreck turned out to be a life-saving run in.

Friends, it's all good. Even things that at the time seem bad, doing a good deed and getting hit by a car. Most people would say, boy, you're unlucky. Too bad for you. But God doesn't allow anything that He can't bring good out of. We don't always see it. You may be thinking, "Joel, my challenges haven't done anything but pull me down". Maybe you don't see the good yet, but you don't know what God is doing behind the scenes. Maybe it hasn't all come together. This is where faith comes in. Don't get discouraged. God knows what He's doing. If you'll keep honoring Him, being your best, then God will open doors that no man can shut.

When adversity comes, we can get negative, live bitter, or we can say, "God, I trust You. You know what's best for me, even when I don't understand it. I believe, when it all comes together, it's going to work for me and not against me". If you wanna start living your best life, then you need to remember these words: "It's all good".

Two young college students were traveling to Kenya to work on a missions project. They were in their early 20s, both former college basketball players. It was their first trip overseas. They had prayed that everything would go smoothly, but when the plane tried to land in London, it was too foggy, and they missed their connecting flight. They were disappointed, thinking, what a way to get started. They had to spend the night in the airport. The only seats they had on the next flight were in first class. They put them right up front.

About midway through the flight, the plane took a nosedive and started heading straight toward the ground. People were panicking and screaming, looked like they were going to die. These young men heard noise in the cockpit. It sounded like a struggle. This was before 9/11 when you could go up into the cockpit. They opened the door, and this deranged man had taken control of the plane. The pilots were trying to pull him off, but they were very small and couldn't budge him. These young men were both over 6'6", big and strong. They grabbed that man, ripped him off the controls, and tied him up. The plane had descended from 30.000 feet to 4.000 feet. Another minute or two, they would've all been killed.

That delay seemed like a bad thing, but really, it was good. They couldn't see it at the time. They didn't like it, it didn't fit into their plans, but God held them back on purpose so they could save that whole plane. Sometimes, God will inconvenience you to help somebody else. Instead of getting frustrated when our plans don't work out, we need to remember it's not all about us. "Well, Joel, I don't like the people on my job. They're negative, they gossip, they compromise. When is God gonna move me out"? Maybe God has you there on purpose to let your light shine. Maybe He's counting on you to be a good influence on them.

Quit fighting everything you don't like. Psalm 37 says, "The steps of a good person are ordered by the Lord". If God has you there, He's ordered your steps. The delays, the inconveniences, the unfair situations, you may not like it, may be uncomfortable, but instead of resisting it, why don't you embrace it? Saying, "God, this is where you have me right now, so I'm going to be my best. I'm going to keep a good attitude. I may not like it. It may feel bad, but I know a secret. It's all good". It's not working against you, it's working for you.

This is what Joseph did. Nobody had more breaks than him. As a teenager, he was betrayed by his brothers and thrown into a pit. Then he was sold into slavery, he was lied about, falsely accused and spent years in prison for something that he didn't do. It looked like it was one bad thing after another. He could've been bitter, negative, but he understood this principle, that even though it may look bad, feel bad, be unfair, when it all comes together, God's going to use it for your good. After 13 years of trouble, disappointments, betrayals, he was not only vindicated, he was promoted. The pharaoh brought him out of prison and put him second in command of the nation. Joseph saw his dream come to pass.

Looking back, Joseph would tell you, the whole time, God was directing his steps. All those bad breaks, they were a part of the plan for God to get him to where he was supposed to be. That betrayal felt bad, but the truth is, it was good. It was another step on the way to his destiny. Being sold into slavery was unfair, it was wrong, he didn't like it, but he wouldn't change it. Without that disappointment, he wouldn't have become who he was created to be.

Sometimes, your enemies will do more to promote you than your friends. If my critics hadn't been so vocal, I'd never learned to pray like I pray. When my father died, if I didn't hear people telling me I couldn't step up and minister, it wasn't going to last, I wouldn't have been so determined. Some of those critics, I need to send them a check. They thought they were going to stop me, discourage me, intimidate me. They didn't realize, God used them to light a fire on the inside. They helped me learn how to pray bold prayers, how to declare God's favor, how to persevere, how to stay focused and fight the good fight of faith. They meant it for harm, but God used it for my good.

What am I saying? It's all good, even your enemies. Quit complaining about the opposition. They don't control your destiny, God does. All those years Joseph spent doing the right thing when the wrong thing happened, they were getting him prepared for his destiny. He was developing his character, strengthening his spiritual muscles, proving to God that he could handle it. What if your destiny is on the other side of that adversity? What if those challenges are straightening you for what's ahead? When hard times come, dare to pray, "God, I don't understand it, but I trust You. It doesn't make sense right now, but I know, You'll bring it all together where I'll be saying, it's all good". We have to start seeing our challenges through the right lenses. Having the right outlook is the key to finding strength in adversity. No one knows this better than Jake Olson.

Joel Osteen: On a beautiful day in March, 1997, 35 miles south of the University of Southern California, Jake Olson was born. At eight months old, doctors discovered he had retinoblastoma, cancerous tumors in both eyes. After surgery and treatments, Jake would begin his life with only one eye. For the next 12 years, Jake saw the world in all of its glory. He learned to surf, play golf, but most importantly, he discovered his love for football and the USC Trojans.

Jake Olson: I love being in football and really played with my father growing up, throwing the football around. Played on my flag football team in middle school. When you're in the coliseum and, obviously, the crowd's going wild, it's like nothing else.

Joel Osteen: As Jake grew, through elementary, middle, and high school, he continued to battle cancer in his one good eye. Treatment after treatment, Jake's family fought through it.

Jake's mother: The cancer would go away, then all of a sudden, we'd go to a check up and the cancer would be back. And so they were trying to throw all these different types of treatments that they had against it.

Jake Olson: That cancer came back around eight times, and each time it came back, we'd try to fight it and we had options of fighting it. Chemotherapy, laser treatment, cryotherapy, radiation, and even experimental treatments.

Jake's father: We fought for so long and we threw everything we could at it. And it was just a crushing, it was clearly a crushing moment.

Jake Olson: I picked up the phone... Sorry. I picked up the phone, it was actually the doctor that was calling, and I just remember them saying, the best option would probably be for me to lose my eye. That hurt, as a 12 year old. I just faced 12 years of cancer and was ready to fight for another round, and to be told I was gonna have to lose my eyesight and become completely blind, it was devastating.

Joel Osteen: Before the surgery to remove Jake's eye would take place, his family wanted to give him the opportunity to see things for the last time. One of those things was a USC football game. When the USC coach Pete Carroll heard about Jake's story, he brought him in to be a part of the team.

Jake Olson: Being here at SC helped a lot, being part of that team and what Coach Carroll did for me was absolutely amazing.

Jake's mother: When we got there, they brought us right in to where they do the team meetings. Pete Carroll was there, and he just brought Jake down to the front, and he goes, "Hey, we have a guest today, Jake Olson". And the whole team started chanting, "Jake, Jake, Jake, Jake"!

Joel Osteen: For the next three months, Jake was a part of the team, until the day came when had to have surgery to remove his eye.

Jake's mother: The next day was hard 'cause he woke up. We had to drive to the hospital, so he started crying when I woke him up, and then I started crying. We cried the whole time.

Jake Olson: Not until, really, I woke up from that surgery did I really come to the sense of, hey, okay, this is my reality now, I'm blind.

Jake's father: When Jake came out of that procedure, as devastating as that kinda was, even though we knew the outcome, he talked about light, and there was something there, there was light and he just couldn't believe that his world had light. And I just thought, to this day I still think it's so symbolic of, he has this physical aspect of light but there's just more to it than just that.

Jake's mother: The next morning, I'm in the kitchen and he gets up, and he comes downstairs and he goes, "I'm going to school". And I go, "Are you sure? 'Cause they said you should probably maybe take a week off. You just had the surgery". He goes, "No, I'm going to school".

Jake Olson: There's no sense of sulking around thinking to myself, why me, and I wish I wasn't blind, and why did this happen to me. It was more of, okay, this did happen to me, so let's move on. When it came to high school, it became tackle football. It became a lot more competitive. Talking to some members on the team they were saying, you know, hey, we got this long snapper. He's really good, he's graduating, and we haven't set anyone up to be his replacement.

Jake's father: When Jake told me he wanted to play football, it was within the context of, he was thinking about being like a center, long snapper, and my immediate reaction was, wow, that's interesting. How is this gonna work?

Jake Olson: Picked it up became the best snapper come fall camp and earned a spot in varsity and played varsity junior and senior year.

Joel Osteen: Jake went on to become the starting long snapper on his high school team and didn't stop there. After high school, he went on to become a long snapper for the University of Southern California, his favorite team. Jake didn't let his disability define him or hold him back.

Jake Olson: After I snapped for the first time in the coliseum, I said, if you can't see how God works things out, I think you're the blind one. I truthfully believe that. There are so many blessings that I've been given, and so many lives I've been able to touch and further His kingdom that I think it would be actually quite shameful if I sat here and was mad at Him for letting me go blind.

Male: This kid came in, didn't know what to expect, but he was a phenomenal long snapper and it just showed that, no matter how big the obstacle in your way might be, just persevere and keep going and fighting whatever it is and that's what he's definitely taught me in that way.

Male: Jake may have lost his sight, but he didn't let that change who he is or change anything about his life. He's achieving all his goals he's ever wanted to achieve, and he's inspiring people while he's doing it.

Jake's father: If I could summarize Jake's life and story in one word or one phrase, it's fight on, which is the University of Southern California's theme and chant of, let's fight on.

Jake's mother: Jake is not afraid to share his faith or how's he's gotten through. He gives credit to his faith in Christ. He goes out and speaks and helps motivate other people. God is using this, and sometimes I think that's why we go through things here because if you never went through anything, you wouldn't know, you couldn't be empathetic with anyone else and you wouldn't be able to share how you got through that. And so I know Jake's been a huge inspiration to so many people.

Jake Olson: I always say there's a setup and a setback. And that means that in every setback, there's a setup waiting to happen. Now, that is true when you choose to see it that way. If you see your setbacks as permanent and immovable, then they will stop you. But if you choose to see your setbacks as something that's waiting to set you up, and you can believe in it, use it, and leverage it, let you bring you to new heights. In my case, that's what blindness was. It was a setback, but it was also a setup for a new life full of amazing opportunities.

- Hi, Pastor Joel.
- I need some help.
- Dear Pastor Joel...
- I have a question for you.
- Pastor Joel...
- My anger sometimes gets the best of me.
- I don't know what to do.
- My stepson drives me nuts.
- I need some help.
- My marriage is falling apart and I wish we'd never married.
- How can I get my thoughts right?
- How do I know which direction God wants me to go?
- God isn't answering my prayers.
- Where's God when I'm struggling?
- Dear Pastor Joel...
- How do I choose...
- I don't understand what's going on.
- I can't get my life...
- Hey, Pastor Joel.
- My marriage is struggling.
- I don't know what to do.
- Do you even read these questions? All I know is, I want to start living my best life.
- Where do I start?
- But where do I start?


I get questions like this all the time. Week after week, people call in, write in, reach out to us on social media. And people are facing big challenges, and for many, it's hard to trust that God can turn it around for good. How could death be good? Betrayal, loneliness? These questions make me think about Good Friday. We call it good now, but 2.000 years ago, when Jesus was crucified, it didn't look like a good Friday. The disciples thought it was the worst day of their life. Their dreams were shattered. The man they had devoted their lives to was gone. Doubts filled their mind. Maybe He wasn't who He said He was. Maybe He tricked us. Maybe we wasted all this time.

You can imagine Mary, the mother of Christ, weeping as she sees her son hanging on the cross. She's heartbroken, in so much pain. If someone had suggested, Mary, this is a good Friday, she would've thought they had lost their mind. What do you mean this is good? Look at what's happening. We all face these times when life doesn't make sense. A dream dies, a relationship ends, we come down with an illness. Nothing about the situation seems good. Good would be the last word we'd use to describe this Friday. A more accurate description would be tragic Friday. Betrayed Friday, lonely Friday.

When you're in the heat of the battle, it's easy to get discouraged. The disciples could've said, God, why did you let Judas betray Him? Why did you let the soldiers crucify Him? Why did you abandon Him in His greatest time of need? But a few days later, when Jesus arose from the dead and appeared to them in the upper room and cooked them breakfast on the beach, they realized that He was who He said He was. He did what He said He was going to do. He defeated the enemy and brought salvation to mankind. They looked back on that Friday and said, it wasn't what we thought. It wasn't depressing Friday. It wasn't tragic Friday. It was all a part of God's plan. It was Good Friday. What they thought was the worst day of their lives, they looked back and called it good.

What am I saying? It's all good. It may not be good right now, may not make sense on its own, but God knows how to bring it all together. What you think is going to stop you, set you back, cause you heartache, can you tell you, if you'll stay in faith, one day you'll look back and say, this was good. You may not be able to see it right now, but one day, you will. When God vindicates you, heals you, promotes you, restores you, when he prepares a table for you in the presence of your enemy, when he pays you back double for that difficulty, that's what turns defeated Friday into Good Friday. No more betrayed Friday, disappointed Friday. Now it's blessed Friday, joyful Friday, victorious Friday.

I'm asking you to trust Him. It may be Friday in your life. There's no reason to call it good, but don't worry, Sunday is coming. God is still on the throne. Maybe you're dealing with an illness or struggling in a relationship. You have people coming against you. It feels dark, lonely, discouraging. You don't see how it could ever work out. Stay in faith. New beginnings are on the way. A resurrection is in your future. God wouldn't have allowed the adversity if it wasn't going to move you forward. I believe and declare, everything that was meant to stop you, God is going to use it to push you forward. He's bringing it all together right now. Good Friday is coming in the name of Jesus. Now, go out and live Your Best Life Now.
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