Joel Osteen - The Hot Winds of Testing
I want to talk to you today about The Hot Winds of Testing. We all go through seasons in life that are difficult. We're going along fine, then an unexpected challenge comes: we're diagnosed with an illness, our child is in trouble, the pandemic hits, our business slows down. It's easy to get discouraged and wonder why it happened? But God doesn't stop every difficulty, he will allow challenges to move us into our purpose. If you'll pass the test, on the other side of that difficulty is a new level of your destiny.
Jesus told a parable in Luke chapter 8 about a farmer that sowed seed in his land. Some fell on good ground, some fell on hard ground. When he explained the meaning, he said in verse 13, "The rocky soil is like young plants, their roots don't go down very deep. They believe for a while, then they wilt when the hot winds of testing come". You can't become who you were created to be without going through hot winds of testing. How you respond in these difficult times will determine whether you come out bitter or you come out better.
Times when you feel overwhelmed, you're doing the right thing but it's not improving. You're praying, but it seems like God went on vacation. You lost that loved one, you don't see how you can make it. That's not just a random challenge, it's not just bad luck, you're in the hot winds of testing. God is seeing what you're made of. How deep do your roots go down. Are you going to live sour, discouraged? Or are you going to dig down deep and say, "I may not understand it, but God I trust you. I know you're bigger than what I'm facing. Your plans for me are for good, so Lord, I thank you that you will get me to where I'm supposed to be".
You have to be determined. You're not going to be moved by what's not fair, you're not going to get bitter over who did you wrong. You're not going to live discouraged because of a bad break, a delay, an unexpected challenge. You may be in the hot winds of testing now, you're dealing with an issue in your family, or at the office, that co-worker is leaving you out, getting on your nerves. Not once, but this has gone on month after month. If your roots don't go down deep, if you live shallow, let it frustrate you, try to pay them back, then you'll get stuck where you are. That difficulty is not there to defeat you, it's there to promote you. If you'll pass the test, keep doing the right thing, keep being good to people, keep letting God fight your battles - because your roots go down deep, God will not only turn it around, but he'll bring you out better.
Don't let the hot winds of testing cause you to fall apart. It may be taking longer than you thought: you were determined at first, you stood strong but now it's been a long time, you're tired. Thoughts are telling you, "It's never going to work out, you'll never get well, never see your family restored" - don't believe those lies. That test is not permanent. God has already set an end to the difficulty. You have to get your second wind. God didn't bring you this far to leave you. What he started, he's going to finish. Dig down deep and keep passing the test. Keep thanking him that it's on the way. Keep declaring what he promised. Keep believing when you don't see any sign of it. Stay in this attitude of faith.
"Well, Joel, I don't understand why this happened. I was being my best, why did I have this bad break? Why did I come down with this illness? Why did these people turn on me"? It's just life. Being a person of faith doesn't exempt us from difficulty. These tests come to us all. Paul said in Ephesians 6:13, "Put on the whole armor of God, so in the evil day, you will be able to stand, and having done all, to stand". He didn't say in case you have an evil day, maybe you'll have some trouble. He said "Put the armor on, so in the evil day". He was saying: there's going to be some hot winds of testing. You're going to have things in life that can knock the wind out of you, take your joy, cause you to give up on your dreams.
If you're going to pass the test, your roots have to go down deep. You can't be weak, complain, "God why did this happen"? You have to have a made-up mind, "I know God is still on the throne. I know him being for me is more than the world being against me. I'm not moved by what's not improving. I'm not moved by how unfair it is. I'm not moved by what I don't understand. I know what was meant for harm God is turning to my advantage".
Paul said: when you've done everything you know to do just stand. You don't have to figure it out, you don't have to make things happen, you don't have to worry - just stand in the face of opposition. Stand when every voice says it's not going to work out. Stand when the medical report is not changing. Stand when your finances aren't improving. Stand when your child is not making good decisions. To stand means you're not moved by what's not changing, you're not complaining because it's taking so long, you're not bitter because you had to set back, you're not frustrated because your plans didn't work out. You are steadfast, immovable, unshakable. Your roots go down deep.
You have a report of victory when you could be complaining, you talk about health when you're fighting the illness, you talk about abundance when your business is down, you talk about overcoming when you feel like you're overcome. That's what it means to stand. You stand believing, stand trusting, stand hoping, stand expecting. If you'll stand immovable, unshakable, then you will be unstoppable. Those hot winds of testing will not keep you from your destiny, they will launch you into your destiny.
God is looking for people not necessarily that have great faith, but people that will simply stand. Stand in the middle of a pandemic, not bitter, not discouraged, but stand with an attitude of faith. Stand when the problem is not turning around. Stand when it's taken longer than you thought. Stand when your heart is breaking. Stand when the bottom fell out. God never said we wouldn't have an evil day, a time of trouble, but he did promise: if you'll just stand, he'll bring you out. If you'll stand, he'll defeat your enemies. If you'll stand, he'll give you beauty for ashes. If you'll stand, joy is coming in the morning. If you'll stand, the enemies you see today, you will see no more.
Don't let those hot winds of testing cause you to wilt, think that God is not for you, "I must have done something wrong". No you probably did something right, that's why the enemy's trying to stop you. He thought you would fall apart, get bitter, blame God. What he didn't realize is you know how to stand. You're not moved by the hot winds. You're not worried about the medical report. You're not frustrated over how long it's been. You're steadfast, you're immovable.
Can I tell you the enemy cannot defeat a stander. He can't defeat you when you stand in praise. You thank God even when it's not working out. You stand in excellence. You keep being your best in the middle of the trouble. You stand in faith. You could be negative, sour, but you still believe God is working, you still expect things to change, you still have your hopes up, knowing that it could turn around today. I'm not asking you to have great faith, I'm not asking you to figure out a solution, I'm simply asking you to stand. Stand unmoved by what you're up against. Stand with your eyes on the God, who created the universe, knowing that he has the final say, that he's working behind the scenes, that what he promised you will come to pass.
Are you in those hot winds of testing, facing difficulties that seemed too big, you never dreamed you'd be up against this sickness, never thought your marriage would be in trouble, never thought that company wouldn't need you? God is saying: "Stand. I'm still in control. It's not a surprise to me". He already has the solution. He's already lined up the right people, the healing, the promotion, the breakthroughs, they are already in route.
Here's what I've learned: I know God is on my side not by the storms he stopped, but by the storms that didn't stop me. You can't judge God's favor by the storms he kept you out of, but by the storms he brought you through. David said (Psalm 41:11), "By this I know the Lord is on my side, because my enemies could not triumph over me". He was saying, "I know God is on my side because in those hot winds of testing I just kept standing, doing the right thing, and God defeated my enemies for me". The scripture says you will go through the fire, and not be burned. You will go through the waters, and not drown. You will go through the famine, and not go hungry. Don't get discouraged over what God is bringing you through. He won't allow you to get in a difficulty that he can't bring you out of.
In the scripture three Hebrew teenagers wouldn't bow down to the king's golden idol. He was so upset, he was going to have them thrown into a fiery furnace. You talk about the hot winds of testing. What they were up against seemed impossible. They could have panicked, fallen apart, "God, we were being our best, doing the right thing, why did this happen"? It's a test. God allowed the difficulty not to defeat them, but to establish them. They said, "King we're not going to bow down. We know, our God will deliver us". If they would have stopped there we would think that's great, they had faith, they believed. But what they said next shows us their real attitude. They said (Daniel 3:18), "We know God will deliver us, but even if he doesn't we're still not going to bow down".
That's what it means to stand. You have a made-up mind, you're going to stay in faith whether it works out your way or not. You're going to trust God whether the door opens or closes. You're going to give him praise whether he turns it around in five days or five years. Your roots go down deep. You're not moved by people trying to talk you out of it. "Well, I don't think you'll ever get well. My cousin died of that same thing". When you know how to stand, you let that go in one ear and out the other. You're not moved by opposition, by bad breaks, by people that are not for you. You have an attitude like these teenagers, "I know God is going to turn it around, but even if he doesn't I'm not going to live sour, I'm not going to give up on life, I'm not going to quit believing". When you have these deep roots, the hot winds of testing don't affect you. You're stable, consistent, unmoved. You know no weapon formed against you is going to prosper. You know all things are working together for your good.
This king had the teenagers thrown into the furnace. It was so hot, the guards that threw them in were instantly killed. They should have been gone, should have ended their life, but God has the final say. No person can take your life. No bad break can stop your purpose. No sickness, no addiction, no disappointment. Little later the king came to check on them. He looked through the furnace window, and saw they were all still alive. He couldn't believe it, he said "Didn't we throw three men inbound? I see four men loosed, one looks like the Son of God". Those teenagers came out unharmed, without the smell of smoke.
Sometimes God will keep you out of the fire, other times he'll make you fire proof and send you into the fire. You may be in the fire now, you feel those hot winds of testing. You need to remind yourself, like these teenagers those flames can't harm you, that trouble can't take you out, those people can't stop what God has ordained - it's a test. Are you going to stand despite the opposition? Are you going to stay in faith despite things not working out? Are you going to keep believing, even though you've had setbacks? When you can say like them, "Even if God doesn't do it my way I'm still not going to bow down, I'm still not going to live defeated, I'm still not going to give up on my dreams". When your roots go down deep, God will make things happen that you couldn't make happen. You'll defeat giants that are much bigger, accomplish dreams that seem impossible.
But there are times in life that we all get thrown into the furnace so to speak. We're praying, "God, please keep us out, keep me from the trouble, keep me from the sickness". But here's a key: God controls the thermostat. He won't let the fire get too hot for you. He knows how much you can handle. If it feels like it's too much, that's because you're stronger than you think, it's because your destiny is greater than you think. He's getting you prepared for things much bigger in your future, for favor, influence, opportunity that you've never seen. Don't wilt in the trouble, dig down deep. It's not too much for you, you can handle it, you've been armed with strength for this battle. You are full of can-do power. The forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. But none of us like the hot winds of testing, it would be much easier if things fell into place, and we never had opposition, people were always for us. But without these times of testing, when you have to resist the urge to quit, you have to stretch your faith and believe that God is in control, then we wouldn't become who we were created to be.
I read about these scientists that created a miniature version of our planet: it's called the biosphere 2 project. It's in a big dome that cost 150 million dollars. They made it to study how the earth functions, and to learn more about how we can make improvements. It has 3 800 species of plants and animals, including a rain forest, a savannah, and a desert. They discovered that in this biosphere trees grew much faster than trees outside the dome. They were taken aback at how rapidly they grew, but before the trees reached their full height they fell over. They couldn't withstand their own weight. They realized, in this biosphere they hadn't replicated the wind. It was always calm and peaceful, never any strong winds, never any storms.
Because the trees didn't have to withstand any wind, their roots didn't develop properly, and they had a deficiency in what they called stress wood. Stress wood helps the tree grow stronger and more solidly. Without it the trees can grow fast, but they can't survive. The wind is essential for the tree to flourish, and become what it was created to be. In the same way without these hot winds of testing, without storms, without difficulties, our life would be easier, but we wouldn't develop properly. We wouldn't be able to carry the weight of what God has in store.
Don't complain about the wind, it's strengthening you. Those hot winds of testing can be uncomfortable, we don't like it, but your roots are going down deeper. You're developing, courage strength, fortitude. Those winds are not there to break you, they're there to make you. They're helping you become who you were created to be.
When you have the right perspective, you don't get discouraged when you face challenges. God could have left you in that biosphere with no difficulties, no opposition, you could grow fast, but you wouldn't have the strength for where you're going. Those hot winds of testing are preparing you. Every day you stand your roots are getting stronger. Every time you praise when you could complain, you're developing stress would. When you keep doing the right thing when the wrong thing is happening, your core is getting strengthened to carry the weight of the blessing, the weight of the influence, the weight of the anointing.
It's interesting that airplanes don't take off with the wind, they take off against the wind. The airplane needs the resistance of the wind to get lift. Are you complaining about winds being against you, when in fact God is going to use those winds to give you lift? That challenge may look like it's going to stop you, but really it's going to promote you. Don't get discouraged because you're in the hot winds of testing, that tells me you're about to lift off, you're about to see things you've never seen, go places you've never gone. Past the test, keep standing, keep doing the right thing.
This is what David did. After he defeated Goliath king Saul asked him to come to the palace and be one of his armor-bearers. When Saul wasn't feeling well, he'd have David come in and play the harp. David was faithful. He served Saul with excellence, always gave it his best, but Saul was jealous of David. He didn't like the fact that David was getting all this recognition. One day while he was playing the harp, Saul throw a spear at David trying to kill him, barely missed. David had to flee for his life. He spent months in the desert on the run from king Saul.
Here David hadn't done anything wrong. He could have said, "God, this isn't fair, where are you"? But in those hot winds of testing David kept doing the right thing. He had a chance to kill Saul, to get revenge, but he wouldn't do it. He knew Saul was anointed to be king, and David wouldn't touch God's anointed. As David kept passing the test, his roots were going down deeper, his character was being developed, he was showing God what he was made of. That's what prepared him to take the throne and do great things.
When you study these heroes of faith, one thing you'll find is they all went through these hot winds of testing. When the Israelites were in slavery, God told Moses to go tell the Pharaoh to let the people go. Moses went, he obeyed, but Pharaoh said "No". What do you do when you do what God tells you but it doesn't work? You pray, you believe, you're good to people, you take the high road but nothing's improving. Moses could have been sour, thought "God, I did my part, I got my courage up, but it didn't happen". No, he went back and told Pharaoh again, and again, and again. He was in the hot winds of testing. Was he going to get discouraged and give up because it wasn't happening the way he thought?
Maybe you've been doing the right thing again and again, and people aren't changing, the medical report is not improving, your business is not getting better. This is when you have to have deep roots. "God, I'm not moved by what's not changing. I'm not discouraged by what's not happening. I'm not going to wilt, start complaining, give up on my dreams, I'm going to keep standing, I'm going to keep doing the right thing". When you pass the test like that, instead of those winds stopping you, they will lift you. Instead of defeating you they will promote you".
Even Jesus had to go through these hot winds of testing. You would think he would have it easy, God would surely favor him, keep him from opposition, from bad breaks. But he had to pass these same tests. People he loved walked away. Peter denied him. Thomas doubted him. The religious leaders made fun of him. In the Garden of Gethsemane he was overcome with despair so much so, that he swept great drops of blood. When he was crucified, the scripture says (Matthew 27:45), "Darkness fell across the whole land from the sixth to the ninth hour". As he hung there, the sun refused to shine. It was a dark moment.
Jesus could have called down angels to rescue him. He could have called down fire from heaven, but in the dark moment he didn't take the easy way out. In the dark moment he didn't come down off the cross. Yes, he's the Son of God, but he still felt the pain. He was in so much agony, he cried out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me"? The scripture says (Hebrew 12:2), "He endured the pain of the cross, looking forward to the joy that was coming". He knew on the other side of the dark moment was a resurrection. We would never have salvation without a dark moment. Jesus would have never sat at the right hand of the father, without a dark moment. Joseph would have never become the prince of Egypt without a dark moment, his family betraying him. Paul would have never written half of the New Testament without a dark moment, being in prison for sharing his faith. Sarah would have never given birth to the promised child without a dark moment, being barren for 80 years.
When you're in a dark moment you have to remind yourself: that difficulty is not the end, it's leading you to a resurrection, to a new beginning, to something that you've never seen. Don't give up in the dark moment, don't quit believing in the dark moment. Don't stop doing the right thing in the dark moment. You may feel like that God has forgotten about you. Even Jesus asked why he was forsaken. But sometimes in the test the teacher is silent. You don't hear anything, you don't see anything improving, but you have to know in the dark moments God still has you in the palm of his hand. He knows it's difficult. He knows you feel overwhelmed. He knows you don't think you can go on - don't worry, help is on the way. Weeping endures for a night, but joy is coming in the morning. Now keep standing one day at a time. Don't worry about tomorrow. You don't have grace for tomorrow, stand today, and when you get to tomorrow you'll have grace for that day.
It's significant that the scripture tells us darkness covered the earth from the sixth to the ninth hour. The writer wasn't just giving us a time frame so we would know chronologically when it all happened, God was showing us just as he sets a time for you to come into the dark moment, he sets a time for you to come out of it. Can I tell you? Your ninth hour is coming. The dark moments are not permanent. The hot winds of testing don't last forever. You are close to seeing things turn around. You are close to a breakthrough, close to your healing, close to meeting the right person, close to victory like you've never seen.
The scripture says (Romans 8:18), "The suffering of this present time doesn't compare to the glory that's coming". If you could see what God has coming: the promotion, the favor, the influence, you wouldn't complain about that dark moment, you would do like Jesus and endure a little bit longer. Keep standing, keep honoring God, keep being good to people. Your ninth hour is on the way. Things are about to change in your favor. The light is about to come bursting in - it's going to happen suddenly. Just as that challenge came unexpectedly, God's favor is going to show up unexpectedly. He's already set an end to the difficulty. Now, I believe and declare, you are coming into your ninth hour. That darkness is about to lift. The hot winds of testing are about to subside. I speak strengthened to you, healing, favor, promotion, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.