Joel Osteen - Greater is Coming
I want to talk to you today about Greater is Coming. We all face setbacks in life and things we don't understand. When we go through loss and disappointments, it's easy to get discouraged and think, "That's the way it's always going to be". But our God is a God of restoration. He doesn't stop every difficulty, he doesn't keep us from every challenge, but he did promise he would pay us back for the wrongs, he would restore what was stolen. David said in Psalm 71:20-21, "You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to even greater honor". The suffering is a setup, God allowed the difficulty not to make you miserable, but to restore you to greater honor. God never brings you out the same, he makes the enemy pay for bringing the trouble.
When you're in tough times you have to remind yourself: that is not how your story ends. That loneliness, the bad break, the anxiety is not your destiny - greater is coming: greater joy, greater strength, greater relationships. That setback in your finances, that client you lost, the unfair childhood - that didn't stop your purpose, greater opportunities are coming, greater favor, greater influence. The enemy brought it to set you back, he didn't realize, it's setting you up for God to show out in your life. He meant it for your harm, God's turning it to your advantage.
When you're in difficult times, keep this phrase in your spirit "Greater is coming". God didn't bring you this far to leave you, he wouldn't have allowed it, if it was going to keep you from your destiny, just the opposite, it's going to launch you into your destiny. Paul said (2 Corinthians 4:17), "These light afflictions are for a moment but they are working in us an eternal weight of glory". The trouble is temporary, the glory is permanent. The key is: don't stay focused on the suffering, stay focused on the glory that's coming. It may be tough right now, life has dealt you an unfair hand, that suffering is not in vain, it's serving a purpose, it's leading you to greater honor, greater favor, greater victories.
I love David's attitude, "God you've allowed me to suffer much hardship". He could have stopped there and stayed focused on the bad breaks, "God, I don't understand it. Why did my father leave me in the shepherd's fields? Why is king Saul trying to kill me"? Instead, David said in effect, "God, I've had a lot of bad breaks, I've gone through much suffering, but I know this, you will restore me to greater honor". He was thanking God for greater in the middle of the difficulty.
When you're in tough times you can either talk about how big the problem is or you can talk about how big your God is. And if you're going to see the greater, you have to do like David, in the middle of the difficulty start declaring "Greater is coming". The medical report doesn't look good, while you're taking the treatment, "Lord, thank you that greater health is coming, thank you that the number of my days you will fulfill". When you're fighting depression, anxiety, fear, don't sit around thinking about how you're never going to get better. No, in the middle of the battle, "Father, thank you that greater joy is coming, thank you that you're pushing forces of darkness". Your attitude in the suffering will determine whether you come out with greater or whether you stay where you are.
1 Peter 5:10 says, "After you have suffered a little while"... I'm not saying that if you have faith you'll never have suffering, never have things you don't understand, but keep the right perspective: the suffering is not permanent, "After you have suffered a little while". Not your whole life, not the next 20 years, don't believe those lies that what you're going through is never going to change, you'll always struggle with the addiction, you'll always have to deal with that illness, always have trouble at work - no, the suffering is not going to last, it didn't come to stay, it came to pass. What God started in your life, he is going to finish. But here's the key to see the greater, you have to go through the suffering. I would love to tell you that greater comes by just being positive, by just staying in faith, but there are certain levels you can only reach by going through some things.
Now, don't get stuck in the suffering, don't live bitter because somebody walked away, don't settle in the depression thinking that's your lot in life. Keep an attitude of faith and go through it, keep believing when every thought tells you it's never going to change, keep talking like it's going to happen when nothing is improving, keep speaking God's favor when it seems like you're wasting your time. The suffering is a test, it's an opportunity to show God that you are not going to get discouraged, you're not going to give up on your dreams, you're not going to lose your passion.
The scripture goes on to say (1 Peter 5:10), "After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory, will himself restore you, strengthen you and establish you". God has already called you to live a victorious life, he's already called you to overcome every obstacle, the Creator of the universe chose you before you could choose him. The forces that are trying to stop you are no match for the God, who has already called you.
Now, do like David, go through the suffering with a good attitude. If you'll keep the right perspective, then God himself will restore you. That means he won't send the angels, he won't ask Gabriel to do it, but the Most High God will suddenly turn things around, he will suddenly heal, suddenly promote, suddenly deliverer. Now many of you have passed this test, you've been doing the right thing, suffering with a smile, praising through the pain, worshiping instead of worrying: get ready, greater is coming, God is about to do a new thing. Problems that look permanent are about to turnaround, dreams that look too far gone are about to come to pass, the right people, divine connections are going to find you, greater is coming.
The enemy thought he was pulling you back to keep you there, he didn't realize, like a bow and arrow the more he pulls you back, the further God is going to shoot you. He thought he was hindering you, the truth is he was helping you. The suffering was a setup. God allowed it, so he can launch you to a new level of your destiny. Now don't be discouraged by what you're going through. You couldn't become who you were created to be without the struggle, without the disappointment, without the bad break. I know it's uncomfortable, I know you don't like it, but keep reminding yourself: greater is coming.
1 Samuel 30, David and his 600 men had been out protecting the borders of Israel. When they were returning home three days later, they noticed smoke billowing in the sky. It looked like it was coming from their cities. I can imagine, they started walking faster, wondering what was going on. When they arrived home, worst fears came to pass - the Amalekites had come in and raided their city, they burned down all the homes, kidnapped all their wives and children and took all of their possessions. Here David was out doing the right thing and the wrong thing happened, didn't seem fair. But just because you have trouble, doesn't mean you're doing something wrong. Sometimes when you're doing right, you will face difficulties. There are forces trying to keep you from your destiny.
But when you understand this principle, that every setback is a setup for God to take you further, that the suffering is putting you in position for greater honor, then you won't fall apart when you have a bad break, you won't live bitter because you had an unexpected challenge, you'll stay in faith, knowing that the enemy wouldn't be trying to stop you, if he didn't know something amazing was in your future. David and his men were very discouraged. They wept until they could not weep anymore. If that wasn't bad enough, David's men were so distraught about losing their wives and children, they talked about stoning David.
David could have sat around in self-pity, depressed. Instead, the scripture says, "David begin to encourage himself in the Lord his God". Maybe that's where he wrote, "I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise will continually be in my mouth". Maybe sitting in those ashes, he wrote, "Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life". Instead of complaining, he was thanking God that he was still on the throne. Sometimes you won't be able to find anyone else to encourage you: your friends are busy, your pastors on vacation, your church is closed because of the virus, you can't find me on television - that's God letting you know, you have to encourage yourself, you have to dig down and say "I am not going to let this bad break, this disappointment, this injustice steal my joy and sour my life. God, I thank you that you are bigger than this sickness, greater than this depression, more powerful than this opposition. I know you being for me is more than the world being against me". You have to stir up your praise, stir up your faith, start speaking victory over your life, start thanking God that he's fighting your battles, that this too shall pass, that greater is coming.
David prayed and asked if he should go after the enemy. God said in 1 Samuel 30:8, "Yes go after them. You will surely recover everything that was taken from you". You may be in a difficult time, you've lost some things, lost your health, lost your joy, lost your dreams. God is saying: if you'll get your fire back, and start moving forward, you will surely recover everything that you've lost. The enemy may be laughing now, but you're going to have the last laugh. God has the final say. He saw the injustice, he saw who did you wrong, what you didn't get, what was taken from you, he's saying: get ready, everything is coming back - your health, your children, your finances, your joy, your dreams. Not maybe, not there's a good chance - surely you will recover everything. Surely means without a doubt. You can count on it. God used the word surely not for him, but for us, he's saying: be confident, it's all coming back.
David and his men left the camp and headed out. They didn't really know where to go. When it just so happened, they came across a servant of one of the Amalekites. This young man had been sick and not able to travel, so they left him behind. David gave him food and water, he promised that if he would lead them to the Amalekites, he would spare his life. This young man took them right to the enemy's camp. When you get your passion back and go after what belongs to you, God will have the right people in your path to help you, he'll have divine connections, people that will use their experience, their expertise to take you where you couldn't go on your own.
When David showed up, the Amalekites were having a big party, celebrating their victory, dancing, eating, drinking. I've learned, sometimes the enemy celebrates too soon, he doesn't realize: you were down, but not out. You had a setback, but it was really setting you up. He thought, because of that disappointment, you would be sour, give up on your dreams. He thought that setback would cause you to keep sitting in the ashes, defeated, depressed, he never dreamed you would encourage yourselves, he never dreamed when you got knocked down you'd get back up again, he never dreamed instead of complaining, you would start praising. He may be celebrating now, but don't worry, your time is coming. Right now God is arranging things in your favor, he is lining up the breaks you need, he is pushing back forces of darkness. Things are happening that you cannot see. And if you will keep moving forward in faith, you are going to come in to unusual favor, breakthroughs, healing, victories, things that you couldn't make happen on your own.
David and his men went in and attacked the Amalekites, they wiped them all out, nobody was left in the camp. Verse 18 says, "David got everything back, that the Amalekites had taken". They rescued their wives and children, nothing was missing, small or great, son or daughter, David brought everything back. You may feel like you've lost some things, that loved one that didn't make it, seems like they took a part of you with them, you don't have the joy you used to have. Or you've struggled with that addiction so long, you've lost the desire to fight, but God is going to do for you what he did for David, one day you're going to say, "Nothing is missing, I got my dreams back, I got my health back, got my children back, I got my joy back".
God is not going to bring you out partially, where you get most of what you lost. God doesn't do things halfway, nothing is going to be missing. It was a great victory that David got everything back, but God doesn't bring you out the same. When you go through suffering, greater is coming. Verse 20 says, "David's men rounded up all the Amalekites flocks and herds, all their possessions, these belong to them as their reward". There is a reward for going through difficulties with a good attitude. We would be grateful if God just brought us back to where we were, but when you go through challenges in an attitude of faith, with your head held high knowing that God is fighting your battles, then a reward is coming. You're not going to just come out, you're going to come out better than you were before.
Back in the 1950s my father had been pastoring a church for many years. It had grown and become very successful, they just built a beautiful new sanctuary, and he was on the state board for his denomination, his future looked very bright. Then my sister Lisa was born with something like cerebral palsy. The doctors told my parents that she'd probably never be able to walk or to feed herself. My father went to a hotel downtown to be alone for a few days to study the scriptures in a new way. He had been taught that God healed people back in the Bible, but that had passed away. Then he read the scripture, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever. He realized there never was a day of miracles, but there's a God of miracles, and he's still alive.
He went back to his church with this new message of faith and victory, healing, abundance. He thought everybody would be excited, but it was just the opposite. It didn't fit into their tradition. There was so much opposition, he ended up having to leave the church. He was devastated, he had spent years pouring his heart and soul into those people. My mother was 26 years old at the time, she had lifelong friends that never spoke to her again. But instead of sitting around bitter, frustrated over what didn't work out, my parents went out and started Lakewood. They found an old feed store, had holes in the floor and cracks in the walls. They cleaned it up and 90 people showed up the first Sunday.
Here my father went from the big prestigious church with the beautiful new auditorium to this little rundown wood building with a fraction of the people. Year after year he kept being his best, pouring his heart into them, not listening to the critics and naysayers. The opposition said: Lakewood would never last, that my father was wasting his time. But when you go through much suffering, God gives you a promise that greater honor is coming, greater favor, greater influence.
Against all odds my sister Lisa began to get better and better, and today she's perfectly normal, 87 years old doing fine. 1972 Lakewood begin to grow, people started coming from all over the city, it kept growing and growing, and here we are 61 years later still going strong. But we all have unfair things that happen, people that come against us, rejection, betrayals, sicknesses. It's tempting to get discouraged, "God why did this happen? Why did these people push me out? Why was my daughter born with this illness"? But some things were never going to understand. Don't try to figure out all the whys of life, all that's going to do is frustrate you. The good news is: God knows how to work all things for your good. It may not be good, but he knows how to turn it for good.
The key is to go through the suffering with the right attitude, knowing that greater is coming. May not happen on your timetable, but God is faithful, he sees you doing the right thing, when the wrong thing is happening, being the bigger person, overlooking the insults. He sees you being your best at work, when they're not giving you the credit. Like with my father, your time is coming, you're going to see the hand of God take you where you can't go on your own. And the people that try to push you down, don't worry, God is preparing a table for you in the presence of your enemies. That means they will see you promoted, honored, in a position of influence. That health issue that you've been fighting through with the good attitude, still giving God praise, still being good to others, that hasn't gone unnoticed. You've been through the suffering, now get ready, the greater is coming: greater health, greater victories, greater breakthroughs, greater freedom.
In Genesis 29 there's the story of two sisters, Rachel and Leah. When a young man named Jacob saw Rachel it was love at first sight, he fell head-over-heels for her. You see, Rachel was extremely attractive. The scripture says she was beautiful in every way with a lovely face and a shapely figure. Let me tell you, when God says you're fine, you know you're fine. Rachel had it going on. Jacob asked her father Laban if he could marry her. Laban said he could, if he would work for him for seven years. Jacob worked faithfully those seven years, but Laban didn't keep his word, he tricked Jacob. At the wedding in those days, the bride wore a very thick veil, you couldn't really tell who was in there. Jacob assumed it was Rachel, instead it was Leah.
The scripture says Leah had weak eyes and was dull looking, and I don't know what weak eyes mean, but I know what dull looking is, I have a brother named Paul. Laban made sure at the wedding, that Jacob had way too much to drink. The next morning when Jacob woke up, he saw weak eyes staring back at him. He nearly passed out. He rend a Laban, "What in the world are you doing? You know our agreement was for Rachel and not lea". Laban said, "Yes I know, but our tradition says we have to marry the oldest daughter first. Work for me another seven years, then you can have Rachel". Jacob was so dumb, I mean so in love, he worked another seven years and finally married Rachel too. But that whole time Jacob never really loved Leah, his attention was only focused on Rachel.
Rachel was barren she couldn't have children, but Leah gave him son after son, hoping that would win his affection, but still nothing changed. Eventually Rachel gave birth to two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. But all this time Leah was in a loveless marriage, feeling unwanted, second choice, marginalized. I'm sure she was tempted to have low self-esteem, to not feel good about who she was, but God sees when you're being overlooked, pushdown, discounted. Leah could have lived bitter, angry, instead she kept suffering in silence, doing the right thing with a good attitude. When it came time for God to choose a family line to bring Jesus through, he didn't choose one of Rachel's sons, the favorite wife, he didn't choose Joseph whom we read so much about, he didn't choose Benjamin, he chose Leah's son Judah. Jesus came through the tribe of Judah. All of Leah's sons became founders of six of the twelve tribes of Israel.
What am I saying even when people dishonor you, don't worry, God knows how under you. God knows how to cause you to shine. People may try to discount you and push you down, but you are not who people say you are, you are who God says you are. God calls you a masterpiece, he calls you fearfully and wonderfully made, you have royal blood flowing through your veins. He's crowned you with his favor. Yes, there are times like Leah, you have to suffer in silence, do the right thing when it's not fair, work hard when you're not getting the credit, be good to someone that's not being good to you, but know this, God is keeping the records.
When you suffer much, you have a promise, that greater honor is coming. Those that discount you now, one day they'll look up to you. Those that don't give you the time of day, one day they'll want your attention. God knows how to pay you back. When it's difficult, keep this phrase in your spirit: greater is coming. That challenge is not there to stop you, it's there to promote you. You may have lost some things in the past, you think that it could never happen now, now get ready, this is a new day, things are shifting in your favor, God is saying to you what he said to David: you're going to get everything back. Your health is coming, your dreams are coming, your children, your finances, your joy, I believe and declare, nothing is going to be missing, large or small, in Jesus name.