Joel Osteen - Stronger Than You Think
I want to talk to you today about Stronger Than You Think. We all face pressure in life and times where we could feel overwhelmed: the obstacle looks too big, we never dreamed we'd be dealing with this sickness. We thought this trouble at work would be over by now. It's easy to feel like it's too much, we can't take it anymore. But the scripture says (1 Corinthians 10:13) "God will never let you face anything that you can't handle, but he will make a way of escape so you will be able to bear it". When God designed you he took into account everything you would face: every struggle, every unfair situation, every setback, and he put in you the strength, the courage, the determination to withstand it.
When you feel overwhelmed, like the pressure is too much, it's because you're stronger than you think, you haven't discovered all that's in you. You'll never know how strong you really are, until you face pressure that you've never faced. It may seem unbearable, but the fact that God allowed it means that you can handle it. He didn't say he'd make a way of escape so you could run from it, so you could avoid it. He said "So you can bear it". You can look back at times where you didn't think you could go on, the pressure seemed unbearable, but somehow it didn't defeat you. You had the strength to get up another day, you kept going when you didn't feel like you had anything left. Why didn't it break you? Because you were stronger than you thought. God designed you to handle that pressure. He wouldn't have allowed you to get in it, if he hadn't already put in you what you needed to handle it. You will always be able to bear whatever comes your way.
I read about a little fish called the Mariana snailfish. It lives at the very bottom of the ocean, almost five miles under water. No other fish can survive at that pressure, at that depth. The pressure is more than a thousand times than at the surface, it would crush any other fish. But when God designed this snailfish he made its bones flexible so they could withstand the pressure. They have special cells and a unique digestive system. Most fish have one gene to stabilize proteins, but this fish has five. Because they're designed to handle the pressure they don't live burdened, struggling, overwhelmed, they thrive.
In the same way when God designed you, he knew what pressures you would face: financial pressure, relationship pressure, pressure raising children, pressure dealing with an illness. If that pressure was going to crush you, if it was going to be unbearable, then God wouldn't have put you there. He doesn't make mistakes. Anything you face you have to remind yourself you can handle it, you've been designed for it, you wouldn't be at that depth if that pressure was going to defeat you. Now you have to get in agreement with God: if you go around thinking "This is too much. I can't raise these children. This pressure at work is overwhelming", that's going to defeat you.
The scripture talks about how you are full of "Can do" power. You are well able to overcome opposition, to outlast adversity. But I've learned "Can do" power doesn't do any good if you have a "Can't do" mentality. Quit looking at all the things you can't do. Have a new perspective "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. This obstacle may be big, but I can overcome it. This trouble is taking longer than I thought, but I can outlast it. This situation feels overwhelming, but I can handle it, I've been designed for it, I'm strong, I'm anointed, I'm equipped".
Don't have a weak mentality. You weren't created to fall apart when pressure comes, you are stronger than you think, you are more favored than you think, you are more anointed than you think. Like God designed that small fish with special cells and bones to withstand the pressure, how much more has God designed you with special strength, with courage, with fortitude, with stamina? When you start seeing yourself as strong, empowered, well-able, you won't live overwhelmed, you'll discover strength that you didn't know you had.
This is what happened to Gideon. He was hiding from the Midianites in the wine press. He was so afraid of them, they had surrounded his city. You can imagine the pressure he was under, how he felt overwhelmed, worried, wondering what was going to happen. Just when it seemed like he couldn't bear it anymore, an angel showed up and said (Judges 6:12) "Mighty hero, the Lord is with you". One translation says "Valiant man of fearless courage". Gideon didn't feel like a mighty hero, he was hiding. He didn't feel courageous, he felt weak, intimidated. The angel was saying in effect "Gideon, you are stronger than you think. You're letting this situation overwhelm you, you think it's unbearable, too much to handle, I'm here to tell you - you've got what it takes, you're courageous, you're talented, you're favored, you're well able".
Gideon didn't know what was in him. He saw what was around him, enemies that looked too big, opposition that seemed insurmountable. The angel showed up to remind him of what was in him. The angel went on to say "Gideon, you are to lead the people of Israel against the Midianites". Even though he saw an angel, he wasn't convinced. He said "Are you kidding? I come from the poorest family. I'm the least one in my father's house". He was saying "You're calling me strong, you're calling me a hero, do you know my background? Do you know where I come from? Do you know what I'm up against"? Gideon didn't understand that God won't let you get in a situation if he hasn't already equipped you for it. If it was going to be too much to bear, too big to defeat, God wouldn't have allowed it. The fact that you're in it means you can handle it.
Now like Gideon you may not think so, the odds are against you, feels overwhelming - you are stronger than you think, you are more powerful than you think, the Most High God is breathing on your life. He's saying to you today "Mighty hero, rise up. Mighty hero, stand strong. Mighty hero, you are well able". You would think after the angel called him "A mighty hero", he would be full of faith, ready to take new ground, but he still wasn't convinced. God could have thought "Forget it Gideon. If you don't know what you have, if you see yourself weak, then I'll find somebody else", but God never gives up on us. You may think of all the reasons you can't overcome, why the problem's too big, how it's unbearable, but God is going to keep calling you a mighty hero, he's going to keep telling you that you're stronger than you think. He's going to keep pushing you forward, showing you signs of his favor.
Gideon and one of his men snuck down to the enemy's camp to see what was going on. And several armies had united to fight the Israelites, Gideon only had 300 men. It seemed impossible, but just as they crept up, they overheard one of the Midianites telling about a dream that he had. The other Midianites said "I know exactly what that dream means - God has given Gideon and the Israelites victory over us". When Gideon heard that, something came alive on the inside. He returned to camp, shouted to his men "Get up, the Lord has given us the victory". He no longer felt weak, intimidated, overwhelmed, he knew he was well able. At midnight they attacked the enemy armies. Even though they were greatly outnumbered, Gideon and the Israelites won the victory.
But I don't think we would be talking about Gideon if the angel had not told him he was stronger than he thought, if the angel had not called him a mighty hero, if he had not challenged him to see himself differently, then Gideon would have missed his destiny. You're not hearing this by accident. God is saying to you: you're stronger than you think, you're bigger than what you're up against, you were created to overcome, born with what you need to defeat what's trying to stop you. You may feel weak, intimidated, overwhelmed - that's okay. God made us with feelings. I'm not saying don't feel things, I'm saying don't let your feelings have the final say, don't let your feelings run your life. You have to go by what you know, not what you feel. When you feel weak you need to say "I am strong". When you feel overwhelmed you need to say "I can do all things through Christ". When you feel intimidated you need to say "I am a mighty hero". When you feel overwhelmed, like the pressure's too much, you need to say "I can handle it. I am well able to bear it".
It's significant that Gideon heard what the enemy was saying about him, that's what convinced him to see himself the right way. If you could hear the enemy talking about you, he'd be saying "That's William, don't mess with him, he serves the Most High God. That's Maria, that's Susie, you better be careful, they're powerful, they're favored, they're strong". Sometimes the enemy knows who we are more than we know who we are. God is not only saying "You are stronger than you think", but even the enemy is saying, "If they find out who they are surely they will defeat us. If they realize they are a mighty hero, then we are no match for them".
Are you seeing yourself the right way? Have you discovered what's in you? That situation that seems overwhelming, that pressure that feels unbearable, it's not there to defeat you, but to help you discover strength that you didn't know you had. You're not weak, you're not at a disadvantage, you're a mighty hero, you are a man, a woman of fearless courage. Now, the pressure on the outside may be great, other people they may not be able to take it, but God knew you would face it, that's why like that little fish he's already given you what you need not just to survive. That's one thing we just make it through life, burdened down, feeling unbearable - you weren't created to survive but to thrive. When things come that should be unbearable, you've tapped into strength that you didn't know you had. You still give God praise, you still shine at work, you still accomplish big dreams. Don't go your whole life and never discover what's in you - you are stronger than you think.
Think about a little seed, just a quarter of an inch long, doesn't look like much. You put that seed in the ground. The dirt that's on top of it is thousands of times heavier, more powerful. The little seed could think "Just my luck. I was doing fine, then someone put me in this dirt, someone buried me". But what that seed doesn't know is God already took into account that one day it would be buried, one day it would feel overwhelmed, surrounded by pressure and forces that were much greater, so God put in that seed supernatural life, supernatural strength, supernatural ability. After it's buried, been in the dark, looks like it's over, the seed will germinate, it will open up and somehow begin to push the dirt out of the way. That seed didn't realize: it was designed to be buried, it was designed to have dirt put on it. God knew it would face that opposition that looked bigger, that's why he put strength in it to push up dirt, strength to move something many times stronger.
God was showing us: it's not the size of what you're up against. What matters is what the Creator put in you. Don't be intimidated by how big the opposition is, by how bad the medical report looks, by how powerful the people are against you. Like that seed, you have the life of Almighty God, you have the favor of God, you have can-do power, you are stronger than you think.
When the seed is buried I can hear the dirt laughing "You're done now. You don't have a chance. I'm so much more powerful than you". The seed could panic, live overwhelmed, but this seed knows a secret, says "Hey Mr. Dirt, I know I may look small, I know I'm at a disadvantage right now, you're much bigger, but I'm not worried, I'm stronger than I look, I'm more powerful than I appear, I have something in me that's not ordinary, it's not common - I have the life of Almighty God". The dirt says "Big deal, doesn't matter, I'm still hundreds of times more powerful than you", but in a few weeks the little seed opens up, it begins to push the dirt back, push it back, push it back, before long the seed comes up out of the ground, now it's a beautiful bush, blooming flowers.
In the same way things that look like they're going to overwhelm you, looks like it's too much to bear, remember this phrase "You are stronger than you think". God knew it was coming, he already put on the inside things that you can't see right now, but at the appointed time you're going to push back the dirt, you're going to come out of what's holding you back. Not like you were, but you're going to bloom, you're going to blossom, go to new levels, accomplish greater goals. Don't be fooled by the dirt, the dirt is getting you ready to flourish. There are things in your destiny that can only happen with the dirt. If you weren't buried so to speak, you would never see what's in you, you wouldn't reach your potential. You can keep a seed on a shelf for years, that's nice, it doesn't have to get dirty, doesn't have to be uncomfortable, but that seed would never become what it was created to be. It may be an apple seed, there are apple orchards in that one seed, but it will never produce a single apple without the dirt.
The challenge is when we get dirt on us, when we face things we don't understand, it feels overwhelming. It's easy to get discouraged, give up on our dreams, "God, why is this happening"? That's going to keep our seed from germinating. The right attitude is "This dirt is not stopping my destiny, it's taking me into my destiny". God wouldn't have allowed the dirt, if it was going to keep you from your purpose. That problem may look too big, the sickness looks too great, the trouble is not turning around... Can I tell you? You are stronger than you think. You can endure more than you think. That dirt is not going to defeat you, it's going to promote you.
Numbers chapter 11, Moses felt overwhelmed, he was leading the Israelites in the desert, some 2 million people toward the Promised Land. They were complaining, "We're tired of eating this same food, we liked it better in Egypt, why did you bring us out here in the desert"? Moses said in verse 11 "God why did you lay the burdens of all these people on me? They're not my children. I'm not able to bear this on my own. It's too heavy for me". He felt so pressured and so stressed, he said "God I would rather you kill me than have me carry this heavy load". It felt unbearable like he couldn't take it anymore.
God had him call 70 men, 70 elders that could help him. Verse 17 God said "I will take some of the spirit that's on you and I will put it on these men. They will help you carry the burden". One principle of course is to delegate, you can't do everything by yourself, but it's interesting: God didn't say I'm going to take some of my spirit and put it on these men, he said "Moses, I'm going to take some of your spirit and put it on them". Do you see how strong Moses was? Even though he didn't think he could do the work of all 70, God said "You have so much potential, you have so much you haven't tapped into, I'm gonna take from you and give it to them".
Imagine God taken from what's in you, and giving to 70 people, and you still being able to do great things - that's how strong you are, that's how powerful you are, that's how anointed you are. I want you to see yourself as a mighty hero, as someone that's well able. The reason you face big challenges is because you have a big destiny. The reason you have great obstacles is because you have greatness in you. The reason the pressure feels overwhelming is because you're stronger than you think. That difficulty is an opportunity to discover what's in you.
Now, this won't happen if you're weak, defeated, "I can't take it anymore, it's too much for me". If that was true, then God made a mistake when he designed you. He accidentally put you in an environment that you can't handle. No, God doesn't make mistakes. The pressure is showing you how strong you are, how much you can handle, that's getting you ready for how high God is going to take you, for new levels, for greater influence, for unprecedented favor.
We had a dog growing up by the name of Scooter. My father used to ride his bike through the neighborhood, Scooter would follow on alongside. He was so proud of Scooter, he was a big German shepherd, strong and powerful. He would take off ahead of my father, and run through the neighbor's yard, check everything out like he was the king of the road. One day as they were riding this little chihuahua, this little bitty dog saw a Scooter down the road and started barking and barking. Scooter didn't think twice, he took off toward that dog full speed like he was saying "How dare you bark at me"?
My father thought "Oh no, Scooter is going to tear into that dog, one paw on him and that little dog would be done". He sped up tried to calm Scooter down, the closer Scooter got the louder that dog barked. Finally Scooter got right up to this big showdown, my father was waiting for Scooter to show him who was the boss, but Scooter rolled over on his back, put up all four legs in the air, just like he was saying "I give up, please don't hurt me". My father said "I wanted to kick Scooter all the way home".
Scooter was a lot bigger on the outside than he was on the inside. That little chihuahua, he may have been small in size, but he was stronger than he looked, he was more powerful than he looked. I've learned: it's not the size of the problem, it's the size of the person. My father was ashamed of Scooter, but I wonder how many times our Heavenly Father looks down at us and thinks "Why are you putting up all fours? Why are you giving up overwhelmed, thinking you can't handle it, when I've called you a mighty hero, when I've given you can-do power, when I've surrounded you with favor, when I've armed you with strength for every battle, when I'm going before you making crooked places straight, when I've designed you to withstand any pressures that come against you"?
You want to make God proud? Stand strong! Be courageous! Think like a champion! Talk like an overcomer! Praise when you could complain! Declare victory when all you see is defeat! Expect favor when it seems impossible! God has awesome things in your future, but let me keep it real, there will be awesome challenges. To reach your destiny you have to discover what's in you. Every time you realize you're stronger than you think you overcome, you outlast, you endure. That strength is going to be instrumental for the next challenge, for the next dream, that's preparing you for the amazing things God has in store.
David was a teenager working in the shepherds fields taking care of his father's sheep. One day he took lunch to his brothers who were in the army, he heard Goliath taunting the Israelites, and something rose up in him. He told king Saul that he wanted to fight Goliath. They all tried to talk him out of it, told him he was too small, not qualified, no experience. But David was determined. When Goliath saw how small David was he laughed and said "Am I a dog that you would commit me with a stick"? He was saying "Is this the best you've got"? David looked at Goliath, said in effect "I may be small, but I'm stronger than I look. I'm more powerful than I look. I'm more experienced than I look". David took a slingshot, with that one stone brought down Goliath.
You may have some Goliaths telling you what you can't do, you're not strong enough, you can't break the addiction, you can't beat the sickness, you'll never accomplish that dream, you're not big enough. You have to do like David and tell Goliath "I may look small, but I'm stronger than you think. You haven't seen the best of me. You haven't seen the courage, the fortitude, the greatness. You just see a Gideon, you don't realize you're looking at a mighty hero". That problem is not going to defeat you. That trouble is not how your story ends. That loss is not going to define you. You're going to discover things in you, you didn't know you had. I believe even now strength is rising up, courage is rising up, dreams are coming back to life. You're about to see God do things that you couldn't do, turn situations around that look permanent, open doors that no person can shut.
When I was 10 years old I was playing little league baseball. I was very small growing up, always the shortest one on the team. I got up to bat, the coach on the other team came out of the dugout, started waving his arms, shouting to the outfielders "Come in closer. Come in closer". It was like he was saying "This guy up to bat is a loser, look how small he is, he can't hit". It's making this big scene, everyone in the stands was watching. Something rose up in me, I thought "You don't know who you're talking about. You don't know what I'm capable of". The pitcher threw the ball, the first pitch I swung with all of my might, that ball went over everyone's head, one bounce hit the fence. I felt like José Altuve. I was fast, I rounded the bases for an inside the park home run.
Next time I got off the bat the same coach came out, but this time he was waving his arms the other way, shouting "Back up, back up". What happened? I was stronger than he thought. I believe the enemy has misjudged you. He thinks you're a lightweight, too small, at a disadvantage, overwhelmed, life's been tough. Why don't you step up and show what's in you? Why don't you shake off the negative voices, quit listening to the Goliath taunting you, quit believing the obstacle is too big, and show this world who you really are? There's a mighty hero waiting to come out. There's a giant killer. There's a history maker. There's an overcomer.
Yes, you may have some dirt on you you're going through challenges - that dirt cannot hold you down, you have the life of Almighty God. You've been designed for this time, equipped for what you're facing, empowered to fulfill your destiny. Don't live with a can't-do mentality when you have can-do power. Get in agreement with God. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: you're about to discover strength, courage, ability, favor like you've never seen. You're not just going to survive, you're going to thrive, overcoming every obstacle, defeating every enemy, accomplishing every dream, in Jesus name, and if you receive it, can you say amen today? Amen!