Joel Osteen - Easier Than You Think
I want to talk to you today about Easier Than You Think. When we face challenges and have things that come against us, it's easy to start dreading it, thinking this is going to be so hard, "How am I going to make it through this treatment? How can I deal with this child that's off course? How can I accomplish this dream? I don't have the resources, the connections". Yes, there are seasons of testing where we have to endure, do the right thing when it's hard, but there are also times God will step in and make it easier than it looks.
The scripture says (Isaiah 45:2), "He goes before us and makes our crooked places straight". That means what should be overwhelming is no problem at all. What looks complicated, you don't see a solution, suddenly things fall into place. You don't have the connections, you don't know the right people, out of nowhere someone steps in and shows you favor. You thought it was going to be a long, drawn-out process, but it turned out easier than it looked. And you may be facing situations now that you're tempted to dread, you've already decided it's going to be hard, you're gearing up to endure it. God is saying: it's going to be easier than you think. There's going to be a supernatural grace, a supernatural favor, supernatural strength. He's working behind the scenes making rough places smooth. He's changing people's minds, causing them to be for you. Now, you have to get in agreement with God. You can't go around dreading it, making plans for it to be hard - you're drawing in what you're thinking about. If you're telling yourself, "You can't pass the course. This problem is too big, and I'll never get past this sickness", then you're defeating yourself. Turn it around, "Yes, this looks difficult, but God I know, you're still on the throne. You said your yoke is easy, your burden is light. You said you're making my rough places smooth. Father, I want to thank you that it's going to be easier than it looks".
When we were trying to acquire this place the former Compaq Center, we needed 10 votes from the city council members. There were 14 of them in all. We'd worked a long time trying to convince them, we finally had the ten that we needed. But two days before the main vote, one of the main council members that was for us received so much pressure from the other side, he decided to be out of town. Him not being there was a vote against us. We were so disappointed, two years of hard work, now it looked like it wasn't going to happen. I went to visit with a council member that had been against us the whole time. He's a young Jewish man, I thought this was my last shot. I had my best speech prepared, this was going to be my biggest, strongest, most persuasive talk that I'd ever given him. I'd heard all of his reasons why he wasn't for us, I was going to go one by one and tell him why that wasn't right.
I walked in all fired up, ready to go. Just when I was about to start, he smiled and said, "Joel, don't worry, I'm going to vote for you". I was so focused on my speech, it didn't fully register. I thought to myself, "Did I just hear what I thought I heard"? I must have looked confused, because he said it again, "Joel, I'm going to vote for you". I nearly passed out. He went on to tell how an older Jewish woman had called the night before, she was a good friend of the family, someone that he really respected, but he hadn't spoken to her in over 20 years. She said in no uncertain terms that he was to vote for Lakewood having the Compaq Center. It was that phone call that changed his mind. I had never met the lady, I didn't ask her to call, I went in there thinking it was going to be hard to convince him, I was going to give it my best. What I didn't realize is God had gone before me and made my crooked places straight. It was easier than I thought.
God has the right people lined up for you. He knows how to change people's minds. He knows how to cause them to be for you. You don't have to do everything in your own strength, your own talent, your own ability. The Most High God is going before you, he's fighting your battles, he's arranging the good breaks, the healing, the favor, the promotion. We had worked for two years to try to make that happen. We stayed strong, fought the good fight of faith. It didn't happen overnight, it was a struggle, but we kept believing, we kept declaring the promises, we kept doing the right thing, then in that one moment God suddenly turned it around. It was difficult for years, then suddenly it got easy.
You may go through seasons of struggle where you don't see anything happening, no growth, no improvement. Thoughts will tell you "This will always be difficult. You'll always struggle". It looks like it's going to be long, hard, drawn out, but if you'll stay in faith you're going to come in to these moments of favor where God will suddenly cause things to fall into place, suddenly the burden is lifted, suddenly people change their mind, suddenly your business takes off, suddenly your health turns around, it's not a struggle anymore. God is going to make things happen that you couldn't make happen. And some of the things that are stressing you out, you're worried, thinking all the reasons why it's not going to work out, like with me you're going to find God has already resolved the problem, he's already changed their mind, he's already lined up the promotion, the healing, the good breaks. You think you're gonna have to work for it, convince someone, earn it, endure, outlast - it's going to be easier than you think.
God has already gone before you, he's already worked out what you're worrying about. Quit dreading it, quit losing sleep over it. I spent a lot of time stressed over what I was going to say to that council member, what I was going to tell him, how I was going to convince him. If I had known it was going to be so easy, I would have stayed in peace, I would have relaxed, enjoyed my life, knowing that God had already taken care of it. I wonder if you're dreading things that later on you're going to realize God has already worked it out. It's not going to be as difficult as it looks. You're going to find out God has gone before you, he's worked out what's stressing you, he's worked out the problem at the office, he's worked out the conflict with that relative. Seems like it's going to be a big ordeal, take a long time, you're going to discover the rough places have already been made smooth.
This is what happened with the Israelites. They were standing next door to the Promised Land by the Jordan river, contemplating whether or not to go into the Promised Land. Their parents and grandparents stood at that same place 40 years earlier, but they talked themselves out of it. The people living there were the Anakites, they were descendants of giants: huge, strong, powerful people. The Israelites parents thought they were too big they, turned around and wandered in the desert for 40 years. This was a critical moment: would their children do the same thing, think it was too hard, "We'll never defeat these people"?
As they were debating what to do God gave them a promise. Deuteronomy 9:1-3 says, "Today you are about to face people that are much stronger and more powerful. But the Lord your God will cross over ahead of you like a devouring fire to destroy them. He will subdue them so you can easily conquer". When they heard that they changed their mindset, "This is not going to be difficult, this is not going to defeat us, God has gone before us to take care of what's trying to stop us". They went in with boldness with confidence. They defeated the Anakites and lived in the Promised Land - it was easier than they thought.
You may have situations that seem much bigger, stronger, trouble at work, a legal problem, the odds are against you. You're thinking, "How can I deal with this? It's going to be so difficult". God is going to do for you what he did for them, he's crossing over ahead of you right now so you can easily conquer. It's not going to be what it looks like. You're going to see favor, breakthroughs, freedom, things that you couldn't make happen. It's the hand of God. Now get this down in your spirit: easily conquer. You're not going to deal with that depression forever - easily conquer. That cancer is not going to take you out - easily conquer. That struggle and lack is not your destiny - you will easily conquer it. One touch of God's favor, suddenly things turn around, suddenly giants come down, suddenly addictions are broken, suddenly doors open, you see increase, abundance. When you're tempted to dread, worry, think it's too much - turn it around, "Father, thank you that you are crossing over ahead of me, devouring what's trying to stop me. Thank you that I will easily conquer, that I will go into my Promised Land, that I will become all that you've created me to be".
God gave Nehemiah a dream to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. They had been down for many years, the people were living there unprotected. Nehemiah was a thousand miles away, working as a cup bearer for the king. He wasn't a builder, he worked in the kitchen. He didn't have the resources, the funds, the crew. All the odds were against him, looked like it was impossible. Many times God will ask you to do things that seem beyond your own ability, he'll put dreams in your heart that seem too big, you don't have the experience, the talent, the connections. If we look at it only in our ability, then we'll talk ourselves out of it. But God wouldn't ask you to do it if he hadn't already lined up what you need. It looks difficult, you don't see how it can happen, but if you'll take steps of faith, you'll discover that God has already gone before you, it's going to be easier than you think.
Now, I'm not saying there won't be obstacles, people trying to stop you, times that you can feel overwhelmed, but God is not going to leave you there. There will be moments of favor where God makes things happen that you couldn't make happen, like changing that council member's mind. Favor that catapults you into your destiny. Favor that opens doors that you can't open. Favor that causes your business to take off.
Nehemiah could have thought of all the reasons why he couldn't do it. "God, it's too hard. You're asking me to do something that's not reasonable, not practical". But deep down Nehemiah understood this principle, that the God who asks you to do difficult things is the same God that goes before you and makes the crooked places straight. It's a test. If you play it safe, "I can't do it, Joel, the Anakites are too big, the dream too great, the opposition too strong", then it will be too hard. The problem is: you never saw what God was up to. If you don't take the risk, you'll never see how God is going to step in and make it easier than you thought.
All the odds were against Nehemiah. Thoughts telling him he didn't have a chance, this wasn't possible, but Nehemiah chose to believe. God is looking for people who won't get talked out of their dreams, people who aren't moved by how big the challenge is, people that don't dread, thinking that it's too much, too hard, too great, too long, I can't do it. No, be a Nehemiah. The reason God's asking you to do something beyond your ability is he's about to show you favor like you've never seen. It looks too hard, but if you'll take that step of faith, you'll discover God has gone before you, he's going to cause things to fall into place. It's going to be easier than you think.
In Nehemiah 1:11 Nehemiah prayed, "God grant me success as I go to the king and ask for a favor. Put it in his heart to help me". Nehemiah prayed a bold prayer. "God I'm going to go to the king, I'm going to ask him to be good to me, but God I need your favor - put it in his heart to help me". What a great prayer. God, put it in people's heart to help us. God cause us to stand out, God cause people to want to be good to us. "Well, Joel, that's kind of selfish". Listen, if you're going to reach your destiny, if you're going to accomplish your God-given dreams, go places no one in your family has gone, you have to have a boldness. You can't be weak, intimidated, "This is too much" - you have to ask big, pray big, believe big. You're going to need other people to open doors, other people to fund your dreams, other people to use their influence, to push you forward. Have you ever prayed, "God, put it in people's hearts to help me. Put it in people's hearts to show me favor"?
Nehemiah went to the king. The scripture says, the first thing the king said was, "Nehemiah, how can I help you"? When God puts a big dream in your heart, he's already lined up the people to say, "How can I help you? How can I be good to you? Where can I show you favor"? Nehemiah asked the king for permission to take time off to go rebuild the walls. There was no reason for the king to agree, the walls being down didn't affect him, but for some reason the king said, "Fine, you can go Nehemiah". Nehemiah said, "Thank you, but I need another favor. I don't have any materials. I don't have the funds. I need rocks, stones, mortar, supplies". Now he's asking the king to fund his dream. You would think the king would say, "Excuse me, this is your project. I'm giving you the time off, don't expect me to pay for it". Once again the king said, "Yes, I'll give you the supplies".
God has already lined up the provision you need. I've heard it said, "What God orders, he pays for". You may not see how you could ever have the funds, how you could start your business, build that orphanage, move into a nicer neighborhood. You know God put the promise in your heart, but when you look at what you have, your resources - there's no way. The good news is: it's not just up to you. Like with Nehemiah, God has put people that will fund what he promised. He controls the universe. He knows how to get to you what you need. Not natural, but supernatural increase, contracts coming to you, ideas, opportunities, people tracking you down. And you have to do like Nehemiah, "Lord, I believe you're going to cause people to be good to me. You're going to open the windows of heaven, pour out resources to bring to pass what you promised". It has to go beyond the natural, because if you just focus on what you have, you won't see a way. God puts dreams in our heart bigger than we can afford, this is where faith kicks in, this is where you have to pray bold prayers and believe for uncommon resources, out of the ordinary increase, so you can rebuild the walls, so you can accomplish what God put in your heart.
Nehemiah said, "King, I have one last thing that I need. I need protection as I travel to Jerusalem". The scripture says (Nehemiah 2:8), "The king granted Nehemiah all his requests, because the gracious hand of God was on his life". He went and rebuilt the walls in 52 days, in record time. If Nehemiah were here today, he would tell you when you're facing a big obstacle, a big dream, it may look impossible, you don't have the resources, thoughts are telling you "It will never work out", let me encourage you, it's going to be easier than you think. People will be there to help you, the funds will show up, the good breaks will come.
You have an advantage: you're not doing life by yourself. Like Nehemiah, the gracious hand of God is on your life. How are you going to beat that cancer? The gracious hand of God. How are you going to overcome that loss? The gracious hand of God. How are you going to accomplish that dream? The gracious hand of God. There is favor on your life that will cause you to go where you can't go on your own. I'm not saying that on the way to our destiny there won't be challenges, and setbacks, and things you don't understand. But if you'll stay in faith, you're going to come into these moments of favor, where God suddenly opens the door, causes people to be good to you. The medical report turns around. It's not going to be a constant struggle, you're going to say like Nehemiah, "It was easier than I thought".
"Well, Joel, what if I believe this and it doesn't get easier"? What if you believe it and it does? You have to release your faith. I can tell you, if you're dreading things, convinced that the struggle is permanent, it's going to be hard to accomplish this dream, hard to raise this child, hard to get well - then your own thinking is limiting your life. Get in agreement with God, he's going before you right now making cooking places straight. You're about to see things fall into place, the right people show up, the right doors open, the resources, things that you used to struggle with are not going to be a struggle anymore. You don't have to make this happen, you just have to believe. "Father, thank you that your gracious hand is on my life. Thank you that I'm coming into moments of favor. That what I'm facing is going to be easier than it looks".
During World War II an American fighter pilot was flying a mission over the pacific ocean when he ran out of fuel. He had to land on an island controlled by the Japanese. He and his men knew they would soon be captured and taken as prisoners. With their planes sitting on the beach, with no fuel, they had all given up, all that is except one man. It just so happened this bomber was carrying a chaplain. He believed that God could make a way where he didn't see a way. He began to pray and ask God to protect them, give them favor, and help them to get back to their base. The other men thought he was kind of far out. They were on a deserted island, no boat, no food, it was just a matter of time before they would be found.
Early the next morning one of the men couldn't sleep. He decided to go to the beach and take a walk. He looked out in the waves and saw something strange, bobbing up and down. There was this large canister, about five feet tall, three feet wide. He went over and looked closer, the words were written on it "Aviation fuel". He couldn't believe it. He shouted to the other airmen, they came and pulled it out of the water, they rushed to the plain, poured the fuel in it, in a few minutes they were in the air on their way to their camp, not far away - their lives were spared.
Later it was discovered that this canister was one of hundreds that were on a big cargo barge headed to the air base. On the way the barge was destroyed, when it was attacked by the enemy forces. All the other canisters had been lost, but this one floated over a thousand miles, past 25 other islands. It just so happened it washed up on this island where the plane had run out of fuel. It just so happened that soldier went out early in the morning and saw it. That seemed like an impossible situation: deserted island on the enemy's territory, no airport, no gas stations, but God never runs out of options. He had the solution before you had the problem. That canister had been floating in that direction months before the flight plane ever ran out of fuel. Could have sunk, gotten lost, washed up on another island, but what God has ordained for you is going to find you. It's going to show up at the right time.
God already has the healing in route, the promotion in route, the freedom in route, the abundance in route, the right people are in route. May seem like you could never get out of your situation, never accomplish that dream - you don't know what God is up to though, you don't know what's already in route. It's not going to be as difficult as you think, it's not going to take as long as it looks. God is going before you making crooked places straight. If you could see what he has coming, how he's going to turn the trouble around, restore what you've lost, thrust you to a new level, you wouldn't be discouraged, you wouldn't complain, you would thank God for his goodness. It may look complicated, may seem stressful, the odds are against you, you could live worried - you have to keep reminding yourself, "It's going to be easier than it looks". God is in control. He's fighting your battles. His plans for you are for good. He's bigger than the sickness, greater than the trouble, more powerful than what's trying to stop you.
In the scripture Gideon and his 300 men were facing an army of a hundred and twenty thousand. Gideon was already afraid, intimidated. God finally convinced him to lead the people of Israel against the Midianites. I can hear him saying, "God, this is impossible. We're so outnumbered, how do you expect me to defeat these people"? God puts you in situations that are way over your head: number one to see if you'll trust him, and number two: so he can show out in your life.
God said in judges 6:16, "Gideon, you will defeat the Midianites as if you were fighting one man". God was saying, "Gideon, I know you're facing 120.000 men. I know you're outnumbered. I didn't put you in this situation by accident. Trust me, I'm going before you, I'm going to make the crooked places straight, it's going to be easier than you think". Gideon and his 300 men blew their horns and shouted, the enemy got confused, and ended up destroying each other. Gideon didn't even have to fight. They didn't even break a sweat.
There's something called "A no sweat anointing", that's when you don't have to make it happen, you don't have to strive, work, manipulate - you just stay in faith and God does it for you. God will change the council member's mind. God will cause the king to give you the resources. God will bring the canister of fuel to you. You may be up against a challenge that's much bigger, like Gideon you feel outnumbered, the sickness seems stronger, the addiction permanent, the people coming against you more powerful - God is saying to you what he said to Gideon, "You're going to defeat it like you're fighting one man. It's going to be easier than you think". God is going to do things out of the ordinary, uncommon, unusual. You couldn't make it happen, it's God going before you making crooked places strength, defeating giants, bringing promotion, favor, victory.
Let faith rise up today. Sure we're going to have challenges. They're going to be seasons where we have to endure, outlast, stand strong, but I want you to see: is there are also moments of favor where God's going to step in and make it easier than it looks? Don't go through life dreading, worried, stressed out - you're not doing life on your own, the gracious hand of God is on you. All through the day, "Father, thank you that you're going before me, making cooking places straight. Thank you that your yoke is easy and your burden is light". I believe and declare: you're about to see the gracious hand of God. What used to be a struggle is not going to be a struggle anymore. Negative situations are turning around. New doors are about to open. Healing is coming, breakthroughs are coming, favor is coming, it's going to be easier than you think, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen today? Amen.