Joel Osteen - Special Strength is Coming
I want to talk to you today about Special Strength is Coming. We all have times in life that we feel tired: we've been doing our best, standing strong, but it's been so long, nothing has changed - now, we're fatigue. We don't feel like we have the strength to raise the children, the strength to fight the illness, the strength to pursue our dreams.
A woman has struggled with depression for many years. She's always been so strong, so determined, and I saw her recently and she was very discouraged. She said, "I don't have any fight left in me. I can't do it anymore". Sometimes we see that as a lack of faith, but God doesn't expect you to be strong all the time. He understands: there will be times that we get weary, we don't feel like we can go on. We prayed, we believed, but nothing has changed - now the weight of what we're facing has left us exhausted.
The good news is: God doesn't fault us for feeling weak. He doesn't say, "what's wrong with you? You need to have more faith". The scripture says "When you are weak he is strong". When you feel overwhelmed, like you can't go on, He comes in and gives you special strength - strength that you didn't get on your own, strength to move forward when you should be stuck, strength to overcome the addiction, strength to outlast the opposition. And you may feel weak today, fatigue - that is not your destiny: you are going to run and not be weary, you going to walk and not faint. There's going to be a strength that's not natural, but supernatural.
This is what happened with Elijah. There had been a three-and-a-half-year drought in Samaria. Without rain the Israelites were going to perish: there was no food, no way to grow crops. Elijah went on top of Mount Carmel and begin to pray for rain, but nothing happened. He prayed again and again, had his assistant go out and check the weather, look for clouds - still nothing. Finally, on the seventh time hey saw a small cloud start to form in the sky. Elijah told King Ahab that he better get in his Chariot and quickly leave because there was about to be a huge downpour.
The Scripture says (1 Kings 18:46), "The Lord gave Elijah special strength and he ran ahead of Ahab's chariot all the way to Jezreel". Jezreel wasn't just next door, it was a 20 mile journey. A horse can run twice as fast as an average man. A man can only sustain that top speed for a short distance. On top of this, I'm sure Elijah was tired, being in the famine, not having the proper food, how could he outrun a chariot? That's not possible. God gave him special strength.
You may look at what you're up against, think "I don't have the strength, the stamina, the endurance, the fortitude. Maybe years ago when I've set the top of my game, but now I'm tired". No, get ready, special strength is headed your way. When you have special strength, you're going to outrun some chariots, you're going to overcome what looks impossible. You're gonna accomplish dream, that seem too far gone.
Jezreel was known as the city of chariots, it had a vast fleet of these powerful vehicles. They could move swiftly into battle, they gave the people of Jezreel an incredible advantage. Enemies knew not to come against Jezreel. It's significant that Elijah outran a chariot. These chariots represented power, speed, the ability to dominate with force. I can imagine Elijah standing before king Ahab, as they have sat in his big impressive state-of-the-art chariot. They may have had his drivers up front, his staff in the back. Elisha looked up to king Ahab, said in effect "You have this powerful army, you command a vast fleet of chariots, pulled by these fast strong horses. I don't have your equipment, I don't have your horses, I don't even have a chariot, but I'm not worried, I don't need what you have, I'm going to outrun you to Jezreel".
I can hear a Ahab laughing, saying "What are you talking about, Elijah? These are the fastest horses of our day, these are the most skilled driver, this chariot just won the JD Powers Chariot of the year, you can't outrun me". They took off, the scripture says: the whole way, 20 miles, Elisha ran ahead of the chariot. When they have got to Jezreel, I can see Elijah with his feet up, drinking a glass of tea, saying, "Ahab, what took you so long"? When God gives you special strength, you're going to accomplish things you never dreamed you could accomplish, you're going to overcome opposition that's more powerful, that has more resources.
You may not be up against a chariot, but when you look at that cancer - it seems so much bigger, that addiction, the trouble at work, that slowdown in your business. You don't see how you're going to make it, the difficulty is discouraging enough, but on top of that - you're tired. You've been standing strong, but the famine, the lack of things changing has warned you down. There's no way you can outrun this chariot - in your own strength you can't, but right now God is breathing special strength into you. Like Elijah, you're going to have the endurance, the stamina, the fortitude to do what you can't do on your own. You may think "How can I raise these children, take care of my elderly parents at the same time? How can I make it through this treatment? How can I overcome this anxiety"? When you are weak, he is strong. Now, get ready to outrun some chariots, God has not brought you this far to leave you.
Isaiah said (Isaiah 40:29), "God gives strength to the weary, he increases the power of the weak". You may be weary today, the good news: strength is coming. Maybe you feel weak, you're worn down by everything that's going on, the pandemic, the unrest, the uncertainty. God is saying, "I'm about to increase your power. I'm about to make you stronger". It's not something you have to muster up, you don't have to make it happen, it's the hand of God lifting you, empowering you, re-energizing you, causing you to outrun chariots, giving you special strength. That means strength to outlast, strength to try again, strength to step up to a new level.
When I look back over my life, I can see these times where God gave me special strength. When my father went to be with the Lord, that should have overwhelmed me, caused me to lose my passion, not be able to move forward. But I felt a power rising up in me that I had never felt, a strength, a courage, a determination, a stamina. That wasn't just me being strong, that was God giving me special strength. God is not going to let you miss your destiny. He's not going to let you stay overwhelmed. You may feel that way at times, but that is not how your story ends. You're going to feel a strength that pushes you forward, a power to do what you couldn't do before.
When we were trying to acquire the Compaq Center, it was a three-year process. After we won the city council vote, a company filed a lawsuit to try to keep us from moving in. They were the largest taxpayer in Texas, a huge real estate business, it was David versus Goliath. At first I was passionate, I prayed, I believed, I stood strong, but week after week went by, month after month, nothing changed. One year, two years, I started to get weary, battle fatigue began to set in. Not that we aren't strong, we just get tired of fighting. I thought there's so much bigger than us, they have many more resources, they can drag this out for years.
God understands that we can get tired, he understands that life can wear us down. That's why he said, "I will give strength to the weary, I will increase the power of the weak". Don't beat yourself up for feeling weary, don't be down on yourself because you're not strong all the time - you're human, God's not faulting you. He's saying "When you're weak I'm going to step in, I'm going to make you strong, I'm going to give you power to outrun the chariot".
"Well, Joel, I've been worried a long time. I've been exhausted. I don't see anything changing". your time is coming. You wouldn't be hearing this if special strength wasn't on the way. God hasn't forgotten about you - he sees what you're going through. He sees the lonely nights, the struggles, all those times you've gone the extra mile, he's about to increase your strength. The opposition may not change yet, but you're going to have a new passion, a new fire to stand strong and outlast what's trying to stop you.
And at one point, when I didn't think I could go on, it looked like the lawsuit would never resolve, all of the sudden it was like God gave me a second wind, I had a determination that I didn't have before. It wasn't something I did it, it was God giving strength to the weary. It wasn't long after that, that the company suddenly dropped the lawsuit and the building was ours. Like Elijah we outran the chariot, we defeated something much bigger, much more powerful. How did that happen? God gave us special strength. The scripture says (Psalm 20:7), "Some trust in chariots, some trust in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God". God is going to get you to where you're supposed to be.
The night before Jesus was to be crucified he went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He knew the pain and the suffering he would face. Even though he's God, he was also human, he could feel what we felt. He got tired, there were times he was weary, fatigued and felt lonely. In that garden he was so discouraged and so overcome with emotion, that his sweat drops of blood. He told the disciples (Matthew 26:38), "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow".
Here Jesus is the Son of God, yet he felt overwhelmed like he couldn't go on. You would think God would say "Come on, you need to be stronger, you need to toughen up"? But God understands - life can be overwhelming. There are times we feel weary, tired, distressed. Doesn't mean we don't have enough faith, doesn't mean that we're not strong enough. When Jesus felt so overwhelmed, when it looked like he wasn't going to fulfill his destiny, the scripture says (Luke 22:43), "God sent an angel to strengthen him".
You may be tired today: tired of believing for your dreams, tired of trying to make your marriage work, tired of raising those children. God sees what you're going through, he feels the weight of what you carrying. He's not going to leave you there, he has angels coming your way to strengthen you, to encourage you, to lift you. Thoughts will try to convince you that you're not strong enough, "You need more faith, look at you: tired, discouraged, letting that problem overcome you". Don't believe those lies. Jesus in his human body felt weak, he felt discouraged, he didn't know if he could go on.
God sees you being your best raising the children, fighting that addiction, facing that illness. When you run out of strength, don't worry, angels are coming, help is on the way. You're going to feel strength that you didn't have, joy when you could be discouraged, hope when you should be depressed. You're going to have the power to endure, the favor to overcome, the determination to outlast. It's not because of your own efforts, it's the angels ministering to you.
Before Elijah outran the chariot, he called down fire from heaven and defeated 400 of the false prophets that worshipped the god Baal. When king Ahab's wife Jezebel heard about it she was furious. She sent word to Elijah saying, "If I don't kill you by this time tomorrow, I will take my own life". Elijah was so afraid, he took off running into the desert, he ended up sitting under a tree so exhausted, so overwhelmed, that he didn't want to live. He said, "God I've had enough, I'm done, take me home". Here he had just called down fire from heaven, he had just outran a chariot, he had seen God's goodness and favor, but he got tired.
When we're tired we can lose our perspective. Problems get magnified, the sickness looks bigger, we think the trouble at work will never resolve. We feel overwhelmed like we can't go on. But the beauty of our God is: he understands what we're going through, he knows life can be overwhelming, he knows it's difficult to get out of the Garden of Gethsemane on you. Elijah was under this tree in the desert, depressed, not wanting to live. This could be the end of his story, but what happened? An angel showed up, just like in the garden.
While Elijah was sleeping, this angel cooked him food, he woke Elijah up and told him to eat. Elijah looked up and saw freshly baked bread, he thought he was dreaming. He ate and went back to sleep. The scripture says the angel woke him up a second time and said "Eat some more". Elijah ate the food now, he had the strength to make a 40-day journey. His whole attitude changed, he got his fire back, he got his passion back, he realized God was still on the throne, that he was bigger than what he was facing. Elijah went on to fulfill his destiny.
What I want you to see is: when you are weak God is going to strengthen you, when you can't go on angels are going to show up and make things happen that you couldn't make happen. I love how the angel didn't just help Elijah find food, he didn't just lead him to an animal where he could hunt, lead him to water. The angel not only brought the food to Elijah, but he cooked the food. God is not going to just help you get stronger, but he's going to cook some food for you, he's going to bring blessings, increased, favored, healing that he's already prepared. It's going to be easier than you thought and it's going to happen quicker than you think.
Martin Luther king Jr. told how in the height of the Civil Rights Movement, when so much was coming against him he felt overwhelmed, he didn't know if he could go on. To make matters worse one evening in the middle of the night the phone rang, when he answered there was an angry voice telling him how he wasn't wanted in that town, how he was going to be harmed if he didn't leave. King was so distressed that he couldn't go back to sleep. He began to pace the floor, exhausted. He tried to think of a way he could quietly bow out of leading the movement without appearing to be a coward.
Feeling overwhelmed all of his courage gone, he said "God, I'm here, taking a stand for what I believe is right, but I'm afraid, I'm at the end of my ability, I have nothing left to give, I cannot continue on". Martin Luther king said: at that moment he felt the hand of God, a divine presence, something that he had never felt before strengthening him, encouraging him, breathing new life into his spirit. What was that? A ministering angel.
God is not going to let you give up, he's not going to let you get so discouraged that you can't become who you were created to be. You may feel that way at time, the task looks too big, the opposition too strong, the dream is taken too long, you don't have the strength - don't worry, angels are on the way. You're about to feel a strength that you've never felt, power that you've never had. God is about to lift you, he's breathing victory into your spirit, encouragement, hope. Not just strength, but special strength, strength it causes you to outrun a chariot, strength to overcome the sickness, strength to outlast what's trying to stop you, strength to accomplish what God put in your heart.
When Jesus was about to be crucified, the custom in that day was the person had to carry their own cross. Jesus was so exhausted, he had not slept the night before, he'd gone through much suffering and pain, he did his best, he was as strong as he could, but he fell down under the weight of the cross. God could have given him the strength to carry it the whole way, he could have given him a second wind to finish the journey and not look weak and not fall down, but God was sending this message: "You don't have to be strong all the time. It's okay to feel overwhelmed. It's okay to say like martin Luther king: God, I don't think I can do this".
Sometimes the weight of what we're carrying gets heavy. We think this child is too hard to raise, I can't stay in this marriage, I can't deal with this sickness, I'm lonely, I'm hurting. Voices will try to condemn us, "You don't have enough faith, you need to be stronger, God's not going to help you, you're too weak". Don't believe those lies, even Jesus couldn't carry the weight of his own cross. What's interesting is: when he fell down, God didn't leave him there. He sent a man by the name of Simon to come across his path and carry the cross for Jesus. When you're down, when you're discouraged, God is not going to leave you there. He'll always have someone to help lift you back up, someone to encourage you, someone to help you carry the load that you can't carry. If it's not an angel God will send a person: there will be a Simon there for you.
One time Moses was up on a hill. Joshua and the Israelites were in the valley below fighting the Amalekites. Moses held his rod up in the air: as long as his rod was up, the Israelites were winning. When he put it down, the Amalekites would prevail. The battle kept going longer and longer. The problem was, Moses got tired, he couldn't hold his hands up that long. God didn't say "Moses, you should be stronger, you should have more endurance, more stamina". Well, God said to men, Aaron and hur. They stood on each side of Moses and held his hands up for him.
God has the right people that will be there to help hold up your hands. God knows we're going to get tired, he knows there will be times that we don't have the strength on our own to do what we need to do. He doesn't fault us, he doesn't cancel our destiny, he sends the right people: an Aaron and hur to lift our hands.
A few years after I became pastor everything was growing, we were seeing great favor and God's blessing, but at the same time there were people that didn't understand us. And at one point it seemed like things were coming against us from the left and the right. I had never had any opposition, I thought all we're doing is giving people hope and letting them know that God is good, didn't make sense to me why people would be against that? I was concerned about how it was going to work out, and thoughts told me that we weren't going to last, these other voices were too strong. I was tempted to live worried, discouraged, afraid.
One afternoon I was walking through the lobby of the church, about to get on the elevator, when the doors open, an older lady stepped out that I've known all my life. She used to take care of me in the nursery. I hadn't seen her in years, but I always knew that she prayed for me. Every time I would see her growing up, she would smile and say "Joel, you know, I'm praying for you". I thought, "Yes, I know you've told me 400 times". I gave her a big hug, she said "Joel, I can't believe I ran into you. I was going to send you a note. When I was praying for you this morning, I heard God saying: whatever you're worried about is going to be fine, the people the opposition is not going to last". When she said that, it was like a weight was lifted off of me. I walked away from there strong, competent, re-energized. Two minutes earlier and I would have missed her, two minutes later she'd have been gone God. Knows how to bring the Symons across your path, people that will encourage you and help lift you back up.
Before Jesus was crucified, he went up a high mountain with Peter, James and John. Jesus appearance changed, his face shined like the sun, his clothing became dazzling white, it's known as the Mount of Transfiguration. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared and started talking with Jesus. It's interesting that those two were chosen. There were other great heroes of faith: Abraham, David, Joseph. Jesus was about to face all this hardship and suffering, go through things that were very difficult, things that could be overwhelming and exhausting. Maybe Elijah was there, because even though he had performed great miracles, even though he'd called down fire from heaven, raised a little boy from the dead, at one point he was too exhausted to carry on, too weary to move forward, then God sent angels to strengthen him.
I don't know what the conversation was, but maybe Elijah encouraged Jesus, that God would give him special strength to make it through, that angels would be there to minister to him. Maybe Moses reminded Jesus, how when he was too tired to hold up his hands, when he was fatigued and couldn't do it any longer God sent people to hold his hands up for him, to lift him when he felt, to help him carry the weight of the cross.
Maybe God has you hearing this to remind you: when you face these times where you feel fatigued, overwhelmed, like you don't have the strength to go on - that's okay, Jesus felt overwhelmed, Moses, Elijah, they didn't think they could go on. God is going to have angels to strengthen you. The right people are going to show up. God is not going to let you miss your destiny, he gives strength to the weary, not condemnation, not "Why aren't you stronger". Take the pressure off.
Even Jesus fell down under the weight of the cross. And sometimes your cross is too heavy to carry by yourself. Like Jesus you may fall down, but God will always have a Simon there, someone to help you carry it. Perhaps today you don't feel like you have the strength to move forward, the strength to fight the illness, the strength to raise your children. Remember, when you are weak he is strong.
Now, I believe right now, God is breathing special strength into you. That burden it's weighed you down is being lifted, this is a turning point, God is re-energizing you with fresh passion, fresh vision - you will run and not be weary, you will walk and not faint. Like Elijah, you're about to out run some chariots, you're going to think "Where did I get this energy, this power, this ability"? It's God giving you special strength. Now believe and declare, you are strong, you are victorious, you are well able, you can accomplish dreams bigger than you imagined, overcome obstacles that looked insurmountable, and reach the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.