Joel Osteen - Trust God When You Don't Understand
I want to talk to you today about "Trusting When You Don't Understand". We all go through things in life that don't make sense: a friend walked out of a relationship, the company is downsizing they don't need us anymore. Or we were being our best, then the pandemic head, business went down, children can't go to school, dreams are put on hold. Sometimes it feels like we're going backwards. It's easy to live frustrated and think "God, why is this happening"? But we're not going to understand everything that happens. God's ways are not our ways, he can see things that we can't see. And just because it's not fair doesn't mean that God is not in control.
Your steps are being ordered by the Lord: if he allowed it to happen he's going to bring good out of it. He promises: all things work together for your good. On its own it may not be good, it wasn't fair, you're uncomfortable, but when it all comes together you're going to see how it works to your advantage. The difficulty the, delay, the betrayal was all instrumental in you reaching your destiny. But none of us like bad breaks, lost, delay, but without that difficulty you couldn't become who you were created to be. It may look like a dead end, but really it's setting you up for promotion. That door closed, so a bigger door could open.
That person that left you it was hurtful, but it wasn't just their choice: God moved them out of the way so he could bring someone better. Well, that struggle was difficult, you didn't do anything wrong but you had opposition at work, your child wouldn't do what's right: it wasn't fair, but what you couldn't see is: it was growing you up, developing your character, getting you stronger, more confident, more determined. Without it you wouldn't be prepared for the blessing, the increase the new levels that are coming your way. You may not understand what you're going through, you could live worried, discouraged: try a new approach, "God, I don't understand it, but I trust you. I know you're in control, you're working all things for my good, so I'm not gonna live upset, I'm gonna stay in peace knowing that you will get me to where I'm supposed to be".
In John 13 Jesus was about to be crucified. He and his disciples were eating dinner together at what we now know as "The last supper". These disciples had spent the last few years with Jesus seeing incredible miracles, him healed the sick, raised Lazarus from the dead, feed thousands with a little boys lunch. They were with Jesus when he made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, with people lining the streets shouting "Hosanna". It was an experience greater than they ever imagined. But that evening as they gathered for dinner, the mood quickly changed. Jesus told them how his hour had come, how he was going to be betrayed and crucified. Instead of people celebrating, they would mock him.
After dinner Jesus took a bowl of water and a towel and he washed the disciples feet. He said in verse 7 "You don't realize now what I'm doing, but one day you will understand". Jesus was telling the disciples in effect "You're going to walk through some things in the days to come, that you don't understand. Up to this point there's been people cheering me on, but now I'm about to be betrayed, there's going to be opposition, persecution. I said I would never leave you, but I'm about to be taken away". He knew they were going to feel lonely, confused, afraid, so he told them right up front "You're not going to understand it now, but one day you will".
Like these disciples there will be times in life that you don't understand what God is doing, things don't make sense: trouble, delays, closed doors, people that betrayed you, prayers that haven't been answered. It doesn't make sense now, but don't worry one day you're going to understand. God is going to connect all the dots. He doesn't allow things that he doesn't have a purpose for. That trouble is not a surprise to God, the sickness didn't catch him off-guard, the child getting off course is not going to stop his destiny. God is still on the throne, he's still ordering your steps. You can't see it right now, but behind the scenes God is lining up things in your favor.
When it's the right time, when it all comes together it's going to work for your good, you're going to see the hand of God. You'll look back and say "If that hadn't have happened, I wouldn't have this position. If that door hadn't have closed, I wouldn't have met this person. If I hadn't have gone through that difficulty, I wouldn't have stepped in to this new level". Now, don't waste your time trying to figure everything out. There are some things you're not supposed to understand right now. We can't see the plan of God, we can't fathom how he does things. We think natural - he's super natural.
If you're always trying to figure it out it's going to frustrate you. Instead of using that energy trying to understand what's happening, use it to thank God that he's working, thank him that he's fighting your battles, thank him that he's making your crooked places straight, thank him that you're surrounded with his favor.
The scripture says (Psalm 138:8), "God will work out his plan for your life". You don't have to work it out, you don't have to live frustrated over what's not happening, discouraged over disappointments. You're not doing life by yourself, the Creator of the universe is breathing in your direction. You keep honoring him and he'll open the right doors, he'll bring the right people, he'll turn negative situations around, he'll make things happen that you couldn't make happen. His plan for your life is much bigger than your own. If you're going to stay in faith, you have to learn to trust when you don't understand.
After Jesus was crucified, I'm sure the disciples thought "Was he really the Son of God? Did we waste our time with him? I thought he said he would never leave us"? There was a time of doubt, confusion, where it looked like Jesus abandoned them. But as time went on, they begin to realize: the crucifixion was a part of God's plan. Judas betrayal was a part of the plan. The opposition, the mocking, the ridicule, it all had to happen. It was leading to redemption to salvation.
Are you frustrated because you don't understand what God is doing, upset because that friend betrayed you, discouraged over the contract you lost? How do you know that's not leading you to your destiny? Without the betrayal we wouldn't have salvation, without that situation you don't understand, you couldn't see the fullness of what God has in store. And sometimes we're trying to pray away what God is going to use to take us to the next level. I know it's uncomfortable, but the betrayals are necessary, the lonely nights are necessary, the delays, the struggles, it's all necessary.
If Jesus couldn't reach his destiny without these things that don't make sense, that weren't fair, people that did him wrong, how can we reach our destiny without them? But the way to stay in faith is to recognize that it's all a part of God's plan. It's not happening by accident, the enemy didn't somehow get the controls of your life, wrestled them away from God, now God is standing by, hoping things work out. God has you in the palm of his hand, nothing can snatch you away. Him being for you is more than the world being against you. It's very freeing when you can say, "God, I don't understand it but I trust you. Doesn't seem fair, but I'm not gonna live bitter. Had some bad breaks, disappointments, but I'm not going to go around sour. I know you're still in control and you will work out your plan for my life".
A friend of mine is in commercial real estate, he specializes in hotels: he'll buy them, run them for a few years then turn around and sell them. At one point he owned over 200 hotels, most of them were small in rural areas. His dream was to own a large hotel in a major city. A couple of years ago he had a rare opportunity to purchase this prestigious hotel in New York City, it was in a premier location, overlooking central park. He was so excited, he worked for months and months arranging the funding, he found a partner that would go in with him. Financially this was a huge undertaking, he was going to have to stretch, leverage everything he had including his house. For it to work occupancy had to be strong, business had to be good, this was the only way he could make this huge payment.
After over two years of putting it together, this January he was supposed to finally close on the property, but at the last minute his business partner backed out. He couldn't believe it: he scrambled to find another loan, stretched even further, now he was way over his head. The day he went to closing, his bank called and said they had changed their mind and wouldn't lend him the funds. He was so disappointed, this was his dream a prestigious hotel, two years worth the work - all for naught.
He couldn't understand why it didn't work out? What he couldn't see was three months later this pandemic would hit, in New York City would be the epicenter. All the hotels had to close, no income, no business, no customers, he would have this huge payment and no way to make it. He told me: if that deal would have gone through he would be bankrupt, he would have lost all his other hotels, his personal finances would be gone. Sometimes what we think is a bad break is really God protecting us. You may not understand what God is doing now, but one day you will understand, one day you'll say "I'm glad that door didn't open, I'm glad that prayer didn't get answered, I'm glad that relationship didn't get started".
I'm asking you to trust when you don't understand. God can see the big picture for our lives: all we can see is a little down the road. God knows where the dead ends are, he knows where the shortcuts are, he's ordering your steps. I used to just thank him for the open doors, but now I thank him just as much for the closed doors, because if it's not supposed to be mine I don't want it. If God is closing a door - don't fight it. If you tried your best and it didn't work out... yes, be persistent, but at some point you have to accept it as God's plan and move on. That's a sign that God has something better, something more fulfilling, more rewarding. Does it mean that it's never going to happen? It may just mean that it's not the right time.
But too often we get discouraged, bitter, it's not fair, but if you believe that God is ordering your steps then you'll trust him with the open doors, and trust him with the closed doors. You'll trust him with the good brakes, and trust him with the bad breaks. How we respond to these tests has a great impact on whether new doors are going to open, whether we see things turn around. If we go through difficulties discouraged, "God, why did this happen? Why did they do me wrong? Why did my business partner back out? Why did my health go down", that's going to keep us where we are.
It's significant that Jesus washed the disciples feet. The scripture tells us to put on the armor of God. Part of the armor is our shoes of peace. When he washed their feet, he was saying "As you go out and walk through things you don't understand, stay in peace". He didn't wash their eyes, he knew they wouldn't be able to see what he was doing. He didn't wash their ears, he knew they wouldn't understand what was happening. So he washed their feet and sent them out into something they didn't understand. It's like us today: who would have ever thought this year would have turned out like it has? A pandemic, the economy shutting down, not able to go to work, people's lives put on hold. So much uncertainty, unrest, tension. There are a lot of things we don't understand, troubled that we've never seen.
Like Jesus washed the disciples feet, you're his disciple. If you would have been there, he would have washed your feet. I could imagine him doing that today: he's saying "You're going to walk through things you don't understand, see difficulties that you've never seen. There's going to be plenty of opportunities to live upset and afraid, but don't worry, I've washed your feet, I prepared you for what you're going to face, I've armed you with strength for the battle. It may not make sense, but it's all a part of my plan".
God is getting you ready for new levels of influence, new levels of favor, new levels of leadership, new levels of resources. Now, make sure you keep your shoes of peace on. Don't panic over the pandemic, don't fear the unknown, don't lose sleep over what doesn't make sense - God has equipped you, empowered you and anointed you. You've been raised up for such a time as this: no weapon formed against you will prosper. You keep walking in faith, trusting when you don't understand, and you're going to walk into blessings, favor, healing, freedom, abundance, victory like you've never seen.
I've learned: when you stay in faith when you don't understand, you're going to come into blessings that you don't understand. When you trust God when it doesn't make sense, you're going to come into favor that doesn't make sense. Could it be that the disappointment you're so upset about is really a blessing in disguise? You can't see it, but it's a part of a divine plan, a critical piece that God is going to use years down the road to take you where you've never dreamed. But right now that situation by itself doesn't make sense, it seems random, just a bad break, when in fact it's the hand of God setting you up for increase. Without that challenge you won't see the far and beyond favor that belongs to you.
Trust him when it doesn't make sense. I know this is not easy, we don't like closed doors, unfair situations, being uncomfortable, but God uses these things to move us into our purpose. It's not just the good breaks that will take you into your destiny. The closed doors are as important as the open doors, the betrayals are just as important as the divine connections - God uses them all. When you understand this, you won't live upset when your plans don't work out, you won't go around sour because somebody did you wrong. You'll stay in peace knowing that God wouldn't have allowed it, if he wasn't going to use it for your good. It may not feel good, but this is where you have to show God what you're made of.
Anyone can be happy when things are going their way, anyone can thank God when doors are opening, but if you want to pass this test and see God's favor in new ways, you have to thank him when it doesn't work out, you have to have a smile when you could be complaining. Be good to others when someone is not being to you. This is what faith is all about. Not "God I'll trust you as long as you keep me happy, answer my prayers, change my husband, move my boss, keep me in the AC, it's hot outside". The problem with that thinking is: God uses difficulties to get us to our destiny. If you're not willing to be uncomfortable and keep a good attitude when things don't work out, it will keep you from rising higher.
When I was in my late 20s, I received a certified letter in the mail saying that we hadn't filed our tax returns properly, and now we owed thousands of dollars. The men that did our taxes lived in another state, he wasn't familiar with a certain law in Texas. Now we had this unexpected bill. To make matters worse, about half of what we owed was in penalties. We were a young couple, settled up for a down payment for a house, and this was going to take all of our funds. I thought "God, this is not fair. We hired a professional, he messed up, now I'm having to pay for his mistake". Nothing about that situation seemed good, I thought "It's just a bad break, let's pay it and move on".
We ended up finding a man that helped us get that straightened out, he's a tax attorney, he came over to our house every night for several weeks. We filed the forms, did the paperwork. We became good friends, we'd go out to eat, run errands together. 10 years later, when I was working for my father in the television department at Lakewood, someone offered us a construction permit for the last full-power television station in Houston. Tv stations in major cities are very valuable, but I didn't know where to start. I was young, I didn't know anything about buying a permit for a television station, then I thought "I'll call my friend, the one I met during the tax issue".
Three months later we had a signed contract, we put the station on the air. My father went to be with the Lord, and I became the pastor. Few years later we acquired the Compaq Center, it was going to cost a hundred million dollars to renovate. We decided to sell the station. We were told by an expert, a man that sells more stations in the us than anyone else, that we would get a certain amount. We believed it was worth much more, but he was very vocal about how it would never sell for that amount, how we were wasting our time trying to get that much. He gave us all the reasons why it wasn't going to happen, the market was down, too much supply, too many stations for sale. He had all the facts as to why it wasn't as valuable, and why it wasn't going to attract a buyer.
We let that go in one ear and out the other. Don't let people talk you out of what God put in your heart. Sometimes people have too many facts, they have too much information: don't let their doubt get off on you. God is not limited by what the experts says, his favor on your property, your business, your gifts, your talents will cause things to happen that shouldn't happen.
We had a buyer come to us and offer almost twice what he said we would never get. When he heard the figure, he nearly passed out. We sold the station and used those funds to help renovate the Compaq Center. What's interesting is: none of this would have happened, if I had not had the tax problem some twenty years earlier. I was discouraged by it, it was a bad break, it wasn't my fault. I didn't realize: God was ordering my steps, that was a critical piece for me to fulfill my destiny. I thought back then it would only be the good brakes, open doors, things falling into place. I didn't know God would use disappointments, bad brakes, things that weren't fair.
Like Jesus told the disciples, "You're not going to understand what I'm doing now, but one day you will understand". Now, looking back I can see it so clearly: if I had not had the tax problem, I would have never met the attorney. Without my attorney friend I would have never pursued the station. Without the station we wouldn't have the funds to renovate the Compaq Center.
I wonder if you're upset about something now that later on you're going to realize: it had to happen to get you to your destiny. You didn't like it, it wasn't fair, but God used it to connect the dots, it was instrumental. You wouldn't have met the person, you wouldn't have been at the right place, you wouldn't have sold the property, you wouldn't have started the business. Maybe like with me, what you're discouraged over now is really a blessing. You can't see what God is up to, but later on you're going to understand. God knows what you're going to need twenty years from now. A disappointment today, a setback, a betrayal, you may not see how that works out for your good until years down the road.
When our daughter Alexandra was a little girl she loved to put puzzles together. Every couple of weeks we get a new puzzle and work on it, and sometimes it take two or three days to complete. Invariably we'd find a piece that wouldn't fit anywhere, we would try every option, put it here, there, still nothing. I was convinced that the manufacturer made a mistake, they did something wrong, left something out, they put this piece in from another puzzle because it does not fit, I was so frustrating. What's interesting is: every time we got close to the end, and more the pieces came together, all of the sudden that piece that I was so sure it was a mistake would fit perfectly into place. Didn't make sense on its own, I had to wait for the pieces to come together.
You may have some pieces in your life that don't make sense: why did I not get that promotion I worked so hard for? Why did I have that tax issue, was it my fault? Why did that person walk out of a relationship? By itself that piece doesn't fit, right now it's not going to make sense, you have to wait for the other pieces to come together. The scripture says (Romans 8:28), "All things work together for good"... God is in the process of connecting the dots in your life. Be patient and let him work out his plan, trust him when the piece doesn't make sense. I can assure you: your manufacturer didn't make a mistake. When God designed the plan for your life, when he made your puzzle so to speak, he didn't accidentally put in a wrong piece, something that didn't fit. He didn't leave something out, you have been fearfully and wonderfully made, everything is serving his plan.
But here's a key: he never said, "You're going to understand everything. I'm going to show you what I'm doing. It's all going to make sense". He said my, "Ways are not your ways". He said, "Walk by faith and not by sight". You have to trust him when you don't understand, stay in faith when it doesn't make sense. God is working behind the scenes in your life right now. You're on the verge of seeing him connect some dots. This is not the time to be discouraged, this is the time to stir your faith up. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: you're about to step into a new level of favor, breakthroughs, healing, divine connections. Things you haven't understood in the past you're about to understand. God is about to bring it together, you're going to see what he was up to, in Jesus name. If you receive it, can you say amen?