Joel Osteen - Hold On To Hope
Hold onto hope. 2020 has been a unique year. We're working from home, schooling from home, we're figuring out new routines, and new ways to have weddings and birthday parties, even church services. These are unprecedented times for our generation. Some of us have lost loved ones, jobs, stability, many have lost hope. If you're weary, if you're worried, if you're wondering what's up ahead remember these words, hold on to hope. No matter what you face, no matter how big the difficulty, no matter how long it's taking, God is still on the throne. He's bigger than any challenge, any tragedy, any pandemic. Don't believe those lies that it's never going to get any better. Our attitude should be, "I know this too shall pass. It's not going to last forever". What God has in store for you is good.
Most of us know the story of Job in the Bible. We think what a sad life, he had to endure all that suffering. The truth is it wasn't his whole life. We hear all about the suffering of Job, but it was less than a year, it was just a season. Are you judging the rest of your life by what you're going through now? The last nine months may have been challenging, but have a new perspective, this too shall pass. God is still on the throne. When you come out, you're not going to come out the same. Dare to believe like Job you're going to come out with double. Double the joy, double the strength, double the peace, double the resources.
Zachariah 9:12 said, "If you'll be a prisoner of hope, God will restore double back to you". You may feel like a prisoner of your circumstances, like things can never change. Now be a prisoner of hope. That means no matter what comes against you, you don't let it get you down. You know with God, all things are possible. See, hope isn't just a positive attitude it's the anchor of our soul, it's our faith being released. Maybe you've struggled in an area a long time. The enemy keeps telling you it's never going to change. "You're never going to get well, never break that addiction, never accomplish that dream". No, don't accept those lies, keep believing, keep praying, keep hoping this could be the day God turns it around. This could be the day everything changes. And even if it doesn't happen today, the good news is it could happen tomorrow, it could happen later this week.
The book of Hebrews tells us to hold fast to the hope we profess for He who promised is faithful. Hold fast isn't a phrase that we use a lot today, but in the original Greek, Hold fast means not only to embrace, but to embrace with force. It's like someone is trying to take something from you. In other words, you have to get a firm grip on hope. I think of it like a tug of war, you're on one end, the enemy's on the other end, he's trying to pull that rope out of your hand, he's trying to steal your hope, get you to speak negative words, doubt, and unbelief. You gotta be determined to stand strong, you gotta persevere and hold fast. Even when it seems like it's too late God is working behind the scenes. What he started in your life, He's going to finish.
I heard about this young couple they were going to visit some relatives. It was September the 11th, the day of the attacks on the world trade center. Early that morning on the way to the airport, they had a flat tire, they ended up missing their flight. It just so happened that was one of the flights that didn't make it. If they had not had that flat tire, they wouldn't be here today. And this couple was so relieved and so thankful that their lives had been spared. The young man then got a call from his father who lived in New York. He was so frantic and worried. He knew they were supposed to be on that flight. The son gave him the good news that they had missed it. Their whole family was so grateful. This father was a retired fireman. He told his son, he just couldn't stay at home. He wanted to do something. He was going to go down to the site and help rescue people.
Well, that was the last conversation he ever had. The father was killed later that day, when the towers collapsed. The next morning, when his son and daughter in law got the bad news, their joy, their happiness of having their own lives spared was turned to sorrow, even confusion. This father would never have anything to do with God. He was never open. The son had hoped and prayed that one day he would receive Jesus. He'd tried to share God's love, but it was like hitting a brick wall. Now it seemed like it was too late. This son was so heartbroken and so grieved not only at the lost of his father, but at the fact that he didn't know if he was at peace with God.
About three months later, there was a knock on his door. It was a young couple with a very small baby from New York. They ask if he was so and so, and he said that he was. They asked, "Can we come in? We wanna share a story with you". This young lady holding the baby explained that she was in the World Trade Center on the day of the attacks. She was seven months pregnant. This young man's father had come and rescued her and carried her down a long flight stairs. She said on the way down, I started talking to your dad about his relationship with God and about receiving Christ. She said, "When we got to the bottom of the stairs, we both knelt down on our knees and your dad prayed and asked Christ to come into his life". They said, "We traveled this long distance not only to thank you, not only to give you this good news, but we wanted to introduce you to our little son. We named him after your father".
God is a faithful God. He's heard your prayers. He's seen the disappointments, the lonely nights. He knows how to take what was meant for harm and turn it to your advantage. In the tough times when life doesn't seem fair, when your prayers seem unanswered, when it's taken longer than you thought, make sure you hold onto your hope. God has you in the palm of his hand. Like Job, you may have had some bad breaks. That doesn't mean you're not going to fulfill your purpose. You may have had some delays that doesn't mean God won't fulfill his promises. Why don't you shake off the discouragement. Make the decision with me that you're going to be a prisoner of hope. Let me tell you, God has awesome things in your future. He's about to turn negative situations around. He's gonna take you places that you've never dreamed.
Rick Rigsby: We're talking about the importance of holding on to hope. And I'm here with my good friend, Pastor Joel Osteen, to talk about what hope looks like in our world today. Pastor Joel, I'm so glad you could join us.
Joel Osteen: It's awesome to be with you. Dr. Rick, thanks for having me.
Rick Rigsby: What a privilege. You know, Joel, people see what they see and sometimes they don't see the whole picture. So when folks look at you, they see a very successful person, beautiful family, awesome church, the largest church in the United States. But what that does is it discounts the fact that you're a human being who may go through some difficult times, who may go through struggle. How does Joel encourage Joel?
Joel Osteen: Yeah, it's a good thought. You know, I choose to do what I ask people to do, and that is get up every morning and find something to be grateful for. I think Rick, we can lie in bed in the morning and think, "Oh, I've got these problems and we got the pandemic, and I don't feel like going to work", and we're just drawing in negativity. So I challenge myself and others, let's get up in the morning and find something to be grateful for. I like to get up and say, "Lord, thank you that I'm alive today". Really to see each day is a gift, because I don't think you get to a point where nothing's ever wrong in your life. 'Cause you, you know, even with success, you're gonna have challenges, so much of it is our perspective. And I like to make that choice. I'm going to start the day off in faith. I'm not gonna look at what's wrong, I'm gonna thank God for what's right. I'm not gonna think about what I don't have I'm gonna thank God for what I do have. And so I just take the first half hour, I mean, people don't have to take that long, but I like to just take that time to get quiet, to search my heart, thank God for another day, take that time to pray and read the scripture. You have to build yourself up. I think sometimes we wait for others to do it and you know, we try to help, we try to motivate and encourage and that's important, but I think it's more important even every morning. Just take time to build yourself up. When you start the day off in faith, I've found your day will go better.
Rick Rigsby: Isn't that the truth?
Joel Osteen: Yeah.
Rick Rigsby: I mean, I really think that the way that we start the first few minutes of our day, it really does set the tone for the rest of the day. And you know why that's important is everyone has critics, no matter whether you're the mailman or whether you're the president or whomever, you have critics. I think setting a tone that says, "Christ, Jesus loves me. Christ, Jesus is for me. My Lord is tickled and excited about me", really causes you to be so filled with gratitude, doesn't it?
Joel Osteen: It really does. You know, it causes you to put your shoulders back to realize who you are. Hey, we're not average. We're not mediocre. We are children of the Most High God.
Rick Rigsby: Yeah.
Joel Osteen: And I think, Rick, life tries to push people down, devalue us through other people, through circumstances, through laws, through disappointments. And if you're not careful, you look up and you're just dragging through life, just enduring the day, but I believe we're supposed to enjoy life, that every day is a gift from God. And when you realize, "Hey, the Creator of the Universe chose me to be alive at this time. He's called me, He's called you a masterpiece". Well, that helps me to shake off what other people might say or, "Hey, I've got some disappointments, I'm in a tough time. But, Hey, God, you've army was strength for every battle". That's how we keep going strong in a spirit of faith.
Rick Rigsby: I love the spirit of which you speak because you know, we tend to look toward other people or other things to pull us out. And sometimes that causes us to miss the essence of what David was all about. There was a season in David's life where he had to encourage himself, where he had to lay hands on his own head, and so. We can have power over the pity parties, the momentary pity parties by ceasing to look out there and looking up there for our hope is in Jesus the Christ.
Joel Osteen: Yeah, it's so important, pastor Rick 'cause it's easy to wanna rely on others and well if my spouse didn't do this then I'd be happy. If my boss would treat me better, if this pandemic, but you got to make that decision, "Hey, this is the hand that I've been dealt today. And God you've given me power over one thing. And that is my attitude. And God I'm gonna choose to rejoice. I'm gonna choose to be glad". Even when David said that, "this is another day the Lord has made, I'll choose to rejoice", he wasn't in a great time. He wasn't reporting, he was making a declaration of faith and said, "You know what? Yeah, I've got some things wrong, but I'm still gonna choose to give God praise. I wanna choose to be good to somebody". Really, those are seeds that we're sowing for God to change our attitude and change our circumstances.
Rick Rigsby: I hear people say all the time, "he made me mad" or "she made me mad". The reality is another person doesn't have that much power over you. You can make yourself glad in the Lord. And I appreciate your answer. It gives us a great perspective. I wanna ask you this question. Think about what you and pastor Victoria have been through and try to isolate for our viewers a time when you've really needed to exercise the power of hope. And I think I know what you're gonna mention.
Joel Osteen: Yeah, I think the biggest thing, pastor Rick in my life is when my father passed. So I was working behind the scenes like these fine men and women doing the production, making my dad look good. And you know, I thought he had lived to be a 100 years old but at 77 he suddenly passed. And I knew I'm supposed to step up and pastor the church but I'd never faced that kind of challenge before. Every thought told me, "Joel you can't do that. You're a production guy, you've never been to seminary". Then even once I stepped up, pastor Rick, there were other forces that tried to stop, just critics and just other things. But you know what? I just, I had to dig down deep and say, "God, I believe this is something you put in my heart. I'm gonna take this step of faith". And really my attitude was, "even if it doesn't work out, I'll go back to doing television production but I'm not gonna go to my grave, not knowing what I could have become if I'd taken that step of faith and believed that God was for me". And as I launched out with that hope, knowing that God was in control, he's taken me further than I've ever dreamed. So I really believe Rick you can talk yourself out of your dreams or you can talk yourself into your dreams. There's these voices playing in our mind all day long. And sometimes it's negative. "Joel, you can't be a pastor. Who's gonna listen to you, and you haven't been to seminary", but I had to turn that off and just replace it with what God said. "I'm strong in the Lord. I can do all things through Christ. God be in and for me more than the world being against me". Well, that's what caused that hope to come alive.
Rick Rigsby: Sure.
Joel Osteen: And I think it's in all of us, but we have to activate.
Rick Rigsby: That's exactly right. I think you've answered a portion of the next question, but I want you to continue elaborating because I sense everywhere I go, people want to hope. But for whatever reason they say "but I can't, and this is the reason why I can't hope". And the tendency is to look at circumstances, to look at situations. So my question is this, my question is: what is it that prevents people from experiencing the power of hope in your opinion?
Joel Osteen: Yeah, I think there are several things. I think sometimes we let disappointments and setbacks convince us that that is never gonna change. It's never going to get any better. I think of the scripture in Exodus, it says the Israelites became too discouraged to believe. Well, they just kept thinking, we're never gonna get to the Promised Land. Look how big these obstacles, we're out in the desert. What if you dwell on that negative all the time, you're just depressing your own spirit. So I think that's one thing. It's our thought life. That's what we have to turn up that, hope is in us but we have to turn it up and say, "God, okay, this seems impossible but I know You can do the impossible". And I think another good thing too, Rick is to go back and look at your victories in the past 'cause we've all had times where it didn't look like there was a way, but God made a way. You know, when you realize, "Hey God, you did it back then, You can do it again". But you do have to stir it up 'cause you know, forces wanna keep you to say, "You know what? You'll never get married. You'll never get well, you'll never break this addiction. It would have happened by now". Those are lies from the enemy. You could be one day away. You don't know when God's gonna turn that around but I know this when you believe God is faithful to His Word, it may not happen on our timetable but God knows how to get you to where you're supposed to be.
Rick Rigsby: That's a good word, pastor. That really is a good word. Your words remind me of Frank Outlaw, who is credited among others with saying, "watch your thoughts, your thoughts determine your words and shape your character and form your destiny". It all begins with our thought process. The Bible says as a man thinketh so is he and I've seen so many people that don't think that they can break through that. Don't think that they're special. That don't think that they're anointed of God and my response is, have you looked lately at how God describes you? And that will change your thought process? Won't it pastor?
Joel Osteen: It's so important. Yeah, it really will because our life is setting, our thoughts are setting the limits for our life. And I touched on it earlier, but pastor Rick a lot of people there that recording playing in their mind is negative. And it's been that way, their whole life. And they don't know any different. It says that, "You know what? I'll never get married and I'm not that talented. And my coworkers are smarter than I am". And it's just a negative, it's putting themselves down. But I think if you turn that back on to what God says about you, if you get rid of the old, put a new recording on and you know it's, "I'm blessed, I'm prosperous. I'm redeemed, I'm forgiven, I'm talented, I'm creative, I'm disciplined, I'm focused, I'm motivated, I'm determined, I'm equipped, I'm empowered, I'm anointed", to get those things playing in our mind. Not arrogantly but you got to know who you are so you can step up to who you were created to be and it starts in our mind. I mentioned about how, when I stepped up to pastor the church, every thought told me, nobody's gonna listen to you Joel. Why do you think people are going to come? Your dad ministered for 40 years? I mean, just all that negative, but you know what? None of it was true. When I turn that off, it's not only releasing your faith, but it does something to your self image. I put my shoulders back and I walked up that podium. I think, "You know what? These people are gonna like me. I have something to say". And really lot of the stuff that I was thinking and believing at the time, it wasn't true. But as you keep believing it, you're moving toward it, you're pulling it in. It's your faith being released. I'm not saying when we make these statements, "I'm blessed. I'm strong, I'm healthy", you may not feel that way but that's what faith is all about. You keep declaring it. You keep believing it. Really many of the things 20 years ago before I was a pastor, all those thoughts that told me that I couldn't, those thoughts that when I believed that I could, they've come to pass and even more that's God exceeding our expectations.
Rick Rigsby: That's exactly right. I love to sum it up by saying, "If you think you can or if you think you can't, you're right". And of course, that was a great Henry Ford, who would say that. So why not think we can, even if we're the only one, guess who's on our side? And that's really, really exciting. So pastor Joel, we are privileged to provide this program, "Hold On To Hope" to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11. When we look back at 9/11, share with the viewers, some of the lessons that we learned that we can apply in today's season of uncertainty.
Joel Osteen: Yeah, pastor Rick, I think there are probably many lessons. One that comes to my mind is that God is faithful. That he will see us through. I think it helps us to keep the right perspective 'cause we all go through times. When you think back to 9/11, if you were alive and old enough, it felt dark. It felt like, "Wow, we're never gonna be the same. And how are we gonna move forward"? But you know what? God knows how to turn things around. He gives us strength for every battle. So one take away is even in those dark seasons of life to know that that's not the end. I believe that I like this saying, somebody says, "God always ends in ALL IS WELL, if all is not well, then it's not the end". You keep moving forward. And I think what happens sometimes, Rick, that the scripture says that God has written every day of our life in his book. So it's been written. Well, we come to a chapter that's, it's a difficult chapter. You've gone through loss. We've had difficult things happen. I think sometimes we get stuck on that chapter. "Oh wow, 9/11 hit or I've got this setback in my finances or I've got this bad medical report". My encouragement is don't get stuck on that page. Keep turning the page. "God, you're in control". In other words, keep doing the right thing. Keep giving God praise, keep being good to other people, keep having a smile when you could be discouraged. Well, as you turn that page, you're gonna come into another chapter 'cause that's not the end. Your chapter, your book is gonna end in victory. God always calls us to triumph.
Rick Rigsby: That's exactly right. What a powerful word, especially when you consider the fact that the devil doesn't want us to be victorious. And so here's a powerful word that I remind myself of the devil will never lead you to the hope found at the revelation of Jesus. The devil will always attempt to lead you to destruction, but we have overcome the forces of this world by holding on to hope and claiming that hope found only in Jesus. You have time for one more question?
Joel Osteen: Sure, sure.
Rick Rigsby: I want you to think not of a setting in a studio, but being on our last leg at home. Some folks are watching us from a hospital room. Some folks might be listening to us in a jail cell. I know that there were seasons in my life where I'm watching TBN and I'm thinking, "I don't know if I can survive these circumstances". Give people a word of hope, Pastor Joel.
Joel Osteen: I'd love to. And let me tell you this. God has you in the palm of his hand, nothing you're facing is a surprise to him. He knows right where you are. He knows the challenges. He knows maybe who's come against you or what you're facing right now. Let me tell you, he's concerned about you. So you've got to know God has not forgotten about you. Sometimes you feel like, "Well where is God in all this"? I can't explain it all, but I know this, God is still in control of your life. You wouldn't be alive unless God had another victory up in front of you. So like we've been talking about, if you can do your best to just stir up that hope. 'Cause I think the options, Pastor Rick, is you can get bitter, you can live discouraged, you can give up on life, give up on your dreams, but that's just going to pull you down into more negativity. That's the trick of the enemy. Where you just get more depressed and sink deeper and get angry. Or you can say, "God, I may not understand this, but I believe you still have good plans for me. I believe somehow you can turn this around". As faith rises in your heart, just a mustard seed faith. You don't have to have great faith. Just have a little bit of faith. Just call out to God. And Rick and I can both attest God can do amazing things. He took my mother from a bed of cancer and gave her 40 years. That was an 81. He's turned things around in our lives. He can do the same for you. So keep believing, know that we're praying for you. There are good days up ahead. We just believe you're going to see the God of the breakthrough, the God of the turnaround begin to do amazing things in your life.
Rick Rigsby: And we hold on to the whole found at the revelation of Jesus. Thank you so much for your time, Joel.
Joel Osteen: Awesome to be with you.