Joel Osteen - Victory Begins in the Dark
I want to talk to you today about Victory Begins in the Dark. The book of Genesis starts off telling how God created everything, it says the evening and the morning were the first day. You would think it would be the reverse: the morning and the evening were the first day, but God starts the day in the dark, at 12 A.M., nothing looks any different. If you didn't have a watch, you wouldn't know you've entered a new day. It's still dark outside, looks the same as it did at nine o'clock, at ten o'clock, at eleven o'clock, there's no sign that something has changed, but when the clock strikes midnight, in that one second when nothing looks any different it goes from P.M. to A.M. It's still dark, but it's a new day.
It would make more sense if God started the day in the light, when the sun came up at 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning, when the dawn breaks, the light comes - then it's obvious we would know it's a new day, we can see it: things have changed, we hear the birds start chirping, the sun comes over the horizon, we have all this evidence that we've entered a new day. But on purpose God chose to start the day in the dark. It's symbolic of how he does things in our lives: he gives us a promise, he says we've come into a new day, he's restoring health back into us, we're going to lend and not borrow, our child is going to get back on course. We believed, we prayed, we stand in faith but nothing is changing, nothing looks any different, nothing feels any different - still dark outside.
"Well, my back is still hurting. My business hasn't grown. My health hasn't improved". This is what faith is all about - you can't see it, but you have to know you past midnight, you've gone from P.M. to A.M. Yes it's still dark outside, yes nothing has changed, but the sun is on its way up, healing is on the horizon, promotion, freedom, the right people - it's just a matter of time before you see the light come breaking forth.
And don't be discouraged by the dark. The dark doesn't mean nothing has changed. The dark is not a sign that is not working, that he didn't hear your prayer. Thoughts will tell you, "You would have seen something by now. You would feel a little better, one of those companies would have called you back, that addiction wouldn't be this strong". You have to walk by faith and not by sight. If you walk by sight, you'll talk to yourself out of it, because 11:30 at night doesn't look any different than midnight. Everything you can see, feel, touch, smell looks just the same - there's no evidence that it's a new day.
But the Psalmist said (Psalm 56:9), "The moment you pray, the tide of the battle turns". You can't see it, but when you prayed you left the P.M. And you came in to A.M. It's a new day. You may not be able to see any sign of it, that's okay, victory begins in the dark. And we all go through these times where we don't think it's going to work out, seasons where nothing is changing. We're being our best, but the business is not growing. We're standing in faith, but our health is not improving. It's tempting to think that God has forgotten about us, we're always going to have this obstacle. The fact is: light is on the way. What God promised you is in round. You may have struggled in an area a long time, you've been believing for things to change in your marriage, your finances, with an addiction. It seems permanent, God is saying you've already entered a new day, you've already past midnight, you can't see it yet but victory is on the way.
Now instead of complaining about the dark, have a new perspective, the dark means the sun is on the way up, the promise is about to come forth. Who can stop the sun from rising each morning? Who can keep light from breaking forth over the horizon? All the forces of darkness cannot stop what God has ordained for you, they cannot keep what he promised from coming to pass. In the face of that darkness, when you don't see any light, get an agreement with God, "Father, thank you that it's a new day. It may be still dark out, but I don't go about what I see, I go about what I know. And I know that I past midnight. That means my healing is coming, my breakthrough is coming, my abundance is coming, my victory is coming". When you realize God starts with darkness to bring about new things in our life, then you won't get discouraged by the darkness, you'll thank him in the middle of the darkness, you'll praise him despite what's trying to stop you.
This is what Paul and Silas did. They were put in prison for sharing their faith. The religious leaders, the Sadducees, they didn't like them. They accused them of causing a disturbance. They were in the deepest part of the dungeon to make sure they couldn't escape. But God won't let you get in a problem that he can't bring you out of. If that difficulty was going to stop your destiny, God wouldn't have allowed it. It may seem too big for you, you could never overcome it, but it's not too big for our God, he already has the solution.
Than trouble can't keep you from your purpose. That's setback in your finances, the anxiety, the depression is not permanent. It may be dark now, you've had some bad breaks or you brought trouble on yourself, you think you're stuck - no, get ready God is not through with you. What he ordained for your life will come to pass. That difficulty is a setup for him to show out in your life. He's going to do something unusual, something out of the ordinary that will thrust you into your purpose, something that will suddenly change things in your favor.
Paul and Silas had changed around their feet, guard standing outside the prison gates. It looked like they would be put away and we'd never hear from them again, all the odds were against them. But people don't have the final say. What you're up against maybe bigger, more powerful, more influential, but you and God or a majority. Him being for you is more than the world being against you. There's not an obstacle he can't move, there's not a sickness he can't heal, not an addiction he can't free you from.
Sitting in the dungeon, falsely accused, they could have been depressed, "God, why is this happening? It's not fair. We were doing what you wanted us to do", but the scripture says, "At midnight they were singing praises and giving thanks to God". It's interesting that we're told when this happened. Most other miracles we read about we don't have the time, that detail isn't recorded, but God had the writer tell us this time because midnight means it was a new day.
As they were singing praises, suddenly there was a great earthquake. The prison doors flew open, chains fell off their feet and they walked out as free men. It's not a coincidence that this all happened at midnight. They may have been singing at 10 o'clock in the evening, nothing happened. Thanking God at 11 o'clock nothing happened. Praising at 11:30 still nothing. But when they hit midnight, when that new day started, suddenly things changed. God was showing us - it may be dark all around you, you don't see a way out, but when you come into that new day, when you cross from P.M. to A.M., things suddenly shift.
And sometimes you see it all at once, like with Paul and Silas. Other times you see it later, but the moment you praise things change in your favor. There may be a period of darkness, where it doesn't look like anything is happening, but if you do like them and just keep thanking God that he's fighting your battles and thanking him that he's making ways where you don't see a way, then you're going to come into these times where God will suddenly show out in your life, he'll make things happen that you couldn't make happen.
You may have areas where it feels dark right now, nothing is changing - that's a test. Will you praise him in the dark? Will you thank him that what he promised is on the way? Will you talk like it's going to turn around, believe that healing is coming, even though the medical report is an improving? Don't go about what you feel. Your feelings don't always tell you the truth, your emotions will try to convince you that it's never going to work out. Your mind will tell you all the reasons it's not going to happen, "Look how big those obstacles are", no, walk by faith, "Father, thank you that I've come into my midnight, that it's a new day. It may still be dark out, but I know you start the day in the dark. I know that means light is on the way". Keep a song a praise in your heart.
"Well, Joel I've been doing this a long time, I don't understand why nothing is changing". God's timing is not our timing. Keep doing the right thing, you're in a new day. You pass midnight. It may be 3:00 in the morning, you have a few more hours so to speak before the sun comes up. I've learned: the longer it's taking, the better is going to be. God is getting you prepared for the blessing he's already prepared for you. And when it's taking a long time, that's because the blessing is bigger than you can handle right now, he's getting you stronger, more mature, more confident. He's getting other people that are involved in place, he's doing a work in them.
Don't be discouraged because it's been dark a long time, that's a sign God is about to do something that you've never seen, it's going to be bigger, more rewarding, more fulfilling than you've ever imagined. Now keep praising him in the dark, keep being good to other people in the dark, giving, serving. When you do that, like Paul and Silas suddenly doors are going to open, suddenly you're going to come into opportunity, the right people, healing, breakthroughs, it's going to catapult you ahead.
When my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1981, she had been in the hospital for 21 days. One Monday evening the doctors called my father in and said there was nothing more they could do for her. They gave her a few weeks to live. My father drove her home that afternoon in the traffic, it felt like the longest drive of their life. It was a very dark time. My mother could have been depressed, giving up on life, but she knew that God is a healer and that he has the final say. She and my father went to their bedroom, laid down on the floor and prayed. God said in Psalm 50:15, "Call unto me in the day of trouble and I will rescue you".
A lot of times in our difficulties we call people, call friends, call relatives, call experts. And that's all fine, but make sure you call out to God, ask him to help you. He created the universe, he flung stars into place, he has all power. You don't have to beg him, you don't have to plead with him, he's longing to be good to you. The scripture says, "It is the father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom". Just ask in faith for what he's already promised. One of the most powerful things we can do is take God's word to him, remind him what he said, "Father, you said you would restore health back unto me. Lord, I'm asking for your healing, I'm asking you to do what medicine cannot do".
Take his word and pray bold prayers, "Father, you said my children will be mighty in the land. I'm asking you to free them from this addiction, take away these wrong friends, help them to fulfill their destiny. Father, you said I would prosper and be in good health, that I would lend and not borrow, that you are Jehovah Jireh: the Lord my provider. So, Lord I'm asking you to supply all of my needs, make rivers in the desert, give me overflow so I can be a bigger blessing".
On December 11th 1981, when my mother and father prayed and asked God to heal her from that cancer, my mother believed that day she received her healing, that she came into her midnight that she went from P.M. to A.M. But here's the key nothing looked any different. She was still very frail, her skin was yellow, she only weighed 89 pounds. I never heard her complain, she never talked defeat. She would go through the house quoting scriptures, "I will live and not die and declare the works of the Lord". It was still dark, the medical report hadn't changed, month after month no sign of improvement. All of her senses said, "It's not going to work out". She didn't look good, she didn't feel well. Her emotions, her thoughts said she wasn't going to make it, but she wasn't moved by what she saw, she kept thanking God, walking by faith and not by sight.
Sight said, "It's dark, nothing has changed, you'll never get well", but faith said, "I've entered a new day. It's dark now, but light is coming. It's just a matter of time before the healing breaks forth over the horizon". Didn't happen like Paul and Silas suddenly, but over time, little by little she started getting better and better. Her skin color came back to normal, she gained her weight back, got her strength. Today almost 40 years later she's perfectly healthy and whole - no cancer in her body. God has the final say.
It may be dark in your life right now, but don't let the dark fool you. The dark is not a sign that you're never going to get well. It's not a sign that your child is never going to do right. It's not a sign that your business is not going to make it. It may have been meant to stop you, the enemy sent it to keep you from your destiny, the good news - God has overruled that scheme, he's turns the plans of the enemy. That darkness is not going to last, the depression is not permanent, the addiction, the sickness, that trouble at work is not how your story ends. You've gone from P.M. to A.M. It's a new day. The sun is about to break forth, healing is in your future, abundance is in your future, good relationships are in your future, victory is in your future.
Instead of complaining about the dark, being discouraged by the dark, have new perspective: the dark means light is coming. Now do your part - start praising him in the dark, start thanking him that things are changing in your favor. Don't be moved by what you see. 11:30 at night does it look any different than midnight, but midnight is a new day. God is saying: the clock has ticked in your favor, you past midnight. Things may not look any different yet, don't worry, light is on the way. The sun has never once not come up. God has never once not made good on his promises. It may not happen on our timetable or the way we thought, but I can assure you the sun is going to come up in your life. You wouldn't be alive if God didn't have something amazing in your future.
"Well, Joel, it sure feels like midnight". Midnight is a good thing. God always starts in the dark. That's a sign he's about to burst something new, something big, something unusual. If he started in the light, it wouldn't take any faith. If we could see how it was going to happen, we had all the resources, the connections, the solution, we wouldn't have to depend on him. The time to show what you're made of is when it's dark and you don't see anything changing. Thoughts will tell you, "You'll never get out of debt. You'll never meet the right person. You'll never accomplish that dream". Instead of getting depressed, the right attitude is, "Yes, it's still dark. Yes, I don't see anything changing, but I'm not worried. I know it's after midnight, light is coming". God is faithful. What he promised you he's going to bring to pass.
In the scripture, Job went to a dark time. Everything was going great, life was good, then the bottom fell out. He lost his health, lost his family, lost his business - didn't seem fair. The scripture says (Job 1:1), "Job was the most righteous man of his day". You would think he wouldn't have any dark seasons, he wouldn't have to deal with disappointments, bad breaks. But life happens to us all. Rain falls on the just and the unjust. The difference with the just, with people like you, people that honor God, is God promises to take what was meant for harm and turn it for your good. There may be dark seasons, but if you'll stay in faith and not get bitter, God won't just bring you out, he'll bring you out better than you were before, he'll make the enemy pay for bringing that trouble.
"God said to Satan, 'have you seen my servant Job? There's no one like him in all the land. He's blameless, he's a man of integrity, he has a spirit of excellence'". I love the fact that God was bragging on Job. If you could hear what God is saying about you, you would be amazed. We think God is focused on all of our faults, our shortcomings, but God sees all the good things in you. He sees your heart to help others, he sees your sincerity, your kindness, your courage. I can hear him telling the angels, "Have you seen my son? Jim he's really amazing. Have you seen my daughter Rachel? There's no one like her".
God is proud of you. He made you in his own image, he calls you a masterpiece. And just because you're having difficulty doesn't mean you've done something wrong. We all go through tests and seasons that we don't understand. What I want us to see is - the darkness is not permanent, at some point you're going to go from P.M. to A.M. God is going to shift things, you're going to come out promoted, increased, at a new level of your destiny.
When Job lost everything he was very discouraged, he sat down among the ashes and put on sackcloth. He went through phases of being upset, bitter, frustrated. But God knows we're human, we feel things. There may be times where you feel those emotions, that's okay, just don't stay there. Job eventually got up out of the ashes, it was still dark, nothing has changed, but he made the statement, "I know my redeemer lives". He was saying, "God is still on the throne, he has the final say. I'm not gonna drag around sour over what I've lost. I'm getting ready for the new things he has in store".
Few chapters later in the middle of all the difficulty, still as dark as ever, nothing had changed, but Job said "I know God has granted me favor". He was saying, "I know I've entered a new day. I know I've gone from P.M. to A.M. I know this darkness is not permanent". Chapter 8, a man came along to encourage him. He said, "Job, God will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy". He was saying to Job, what God is saying to us, "Don't let this dark season fool you. Don't let this pandemic, don't let the sickness, don't let the break-up cause you to live defeated. You're going to laugh again, you're going to love again, you're going to dream again, you're going to build again, you're going to lead again, you're going to flourish again".
I've heard it said: what if the darkness you're going through is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb, the darkness that proceeds God doing something amazing in your life? You're not in the darkness of the tomb. Have a new perspective, you're in the darkness of the womb. God is about to do something that you haven't seen. You're going to discover talent that you didn't know you had. That person that broke your heart, walked out on you, they didn't stop your destiny, you're about to meet someone better than you've ever imagined. That dark time is not wasted, God is using it to birth something that you could have never experienced without it.
When my father went to be with the Lord, that was a dark time for me. But I can tell you, I wasn't in the darkness of the tomb, I was in the darkness of the womb. God birth talent in me that I didn't know was there. He took what I thought would be my darkest hour and turned it into my brightest hour.
The scripture says (Psalm 30:11), "God will turn your morning into dancing. He will take away your sadness and clothe you with joy". I believe there's sadness that's about to be taken away, that darkness is about to lift offer you. Your going to be clothed with joy, happy, fulfilled, vibrant, with fresh vision, fresh passion. Not just come out, "Okay, hey, I made it through". That mourning is about to be turned to dancing. God is going to make up for the sadness, he's going to pay you back for the sorrow, the hurt, the injustice.
Now get your hopes up, like Job keep thanking him that he's granted you favor, keep declaring "My redeemer lives". Job went through this dark season, but that's not where he ended. The scripture says (Job 42:10-12), "God restored back to Job twice what he had before. He was more blessed in the second part of his life than he was the first". Yes, it was dark, but when the sun rose up he came out with double.
Don't believe those lies that the darkness is permanent, it's never going to change. That darkness is a sign that double is coming. The sun is going to rise in your life again. You're going to see the goodness of God in ways you've never seen. He's breathing in your direction right now. In the unseen realm things are changing in your favor, forces of darkness are being pushed back, the right brakes are headed your way. He's going to make things happen that you couldn't make happen. You're going to know it was the hand of God.
When we talk about Job, we think that must have been fifty years of his life, that was such a terrible time, but some commentaries believe the difficulty was only a nine-month period. It wasn't years and years. What you're dealing with is not going to last as long as it looks, it's not going to hinder you the rest of your life. The sun is going to come up sooner than you think. You're already way past midnight, daybreak is about to happen, light is about to break forth on the horizon.
Get ready for favor, get ready for breakthroughs, get ready for double. You're not in the darkness of the tomb, you're in the darkness of the womb. God is about to burst something out of this that thrust you to a new level. My challenge: trust him in the dark. You may not see anything improving, that's okay, walk by faith and not by sight. If you'll do this, I believe and declare, God is about to turn your mourning into dancing, your sadness into joy. Like Job, you're going to come out restored, promoted, healthy, free, better than you were before, in Jesus name.