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Joyce Meyer - Embracing Every Season Of Your Life

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So, tonight I'm going to teach on "Embracing each season of your life", every season of your life. I don't know about you, but I want to love my life. I mean, if I'm going to be alive and breathe, I want to love it. I want every day to love it. And I don't want to just... You can't just love parts of it. You can't love your life and just love parts of it. You got to learn how to embrace it all. And the only way that we can ever embrace things that are painful, or seem unjust or unfair, or that we don't like is if we learn some secrets that the apostle Paul talked about. He said, "I've learned the secret. I've learned", it's a learning process, "I've learned the secret of being content".

And to be content doesn't mean you never want change. Of course, we all have things in our life that we don't like, that aren't fair, that aren't right, and we want to see them change. But we can still be content and we can still have joy while God is working on those circumstances and situations. And I'm gonna say something, if we really trust God, I mean, if we really trust God, then we will be able to do that.

So, we have to learn how to embrace not just the good things, but even the painful things, the unfair things. And I'm gonna share with you tonight some of the secrets of how you can do that. Some of the things you're gonna know, I'm just going to remind you. First of all, I want to say let's get the words "I hate" out of our language. "I hate to drive in traffic. I hate to do the laundry. I hate to cut the grass. I hate to clean the house. I hate my job. I hate the way I look". How can we ever expect to have a life that we love if we're gonna hate everything? That's a nasty word, I don't even like that word. I don't wanna hate stuff.

So, I started forming a habit several months ago of saying, sometimes I say it more than once a day, "I love my life. I love God. I love myself. I love my family. I love the work I do in ministry. I just love life". And so, I want to encourage you to maybe take my practice and start doing that too. Genesis 8:22, "While the earth remains, there'll be seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease".

Well, I don't know about you, but I would much rather have harvest than seedtime. 'Cause when it's seedtime, you're giving up something. When it's harvest, you're getting something. So, I like harvest. Cold and heat, now different people are different, but I prefer heat over cold. Summer and winter, I like summer better than winter. And day and night, I like day probably better than night.

And so, those are my preferences, but I don't get one without the other. And somehow or another, by the grace of God, I hope that he uses me to get across tonight that if you keep thinking the only way you can ever be content and happy is when everything feels good and is the way you want it to be, then I mean, you are just really in for a rough ride. I know because I tried that for a long time. I mean, you know, I come to you now after 41 years of teaching the word, and I'm not coming to you with just something I got out of a book. I mean, I've lived this stuff, and I started out a real mess and very unhappy. And I mean, probably just about any kind of problem you've got here tonight, I had it.

And I'm really not exaggerating. I mean, I was a mess. I was abused by my dad, abandoned by my mother, married the first guy that came along, he mistreated me, so I know what it's like to have a life that's all messed up. But I know, that I know, that I know that the Word of God works if you work the word. But it's so important for all of us to understand that it's not just hearing the word that changes our lives. It's doing the word that changes our lives. You can even have most of the Bible memorized and that in itself won't change your life if you're not willing to go out and do what you hear, amen?

So, I think it's time to get about some doing. I want stability in my life, and I finally have it. Dave said to me, I mean, when we first got married, I was so up and down emotionally, and just all over the place, bad mood, good mood rarely. Mostly bad moods. And he didn't say this to me at the time, but years later after I got better, he said, "You know, I used to drive home from work at night and think, 'i wonder what she'll be like tonight.'"

And, you know, that's not a good way for anybody to have to live. And so, just loving on you tonight, just want to say that if you're not a very stable person, if you're kind of up and down, and your circumstances are up, you're okay, and when they're not, you bottom out, why don't you make tonight a time where you make a decision that you're really going to start letting God into your life in those areas, and really let him help you and teach you how you can learn to really love the life that you have? You know, wishing is useless. Word's not in the Bible. There's no chapter on wishing. There's no scripture on wishing. You know, lazy people wish, but determined people go to work and they get it done.

"Well, I wish I could lose 20 pounds. Well, I wish I was I was out of debt. I wish my house was clean. I wish I had your life. Well, I wish I had a ministry like Joyce's". I didn't get it wishing, I can tell you that, amen? There's always seasons of waiting and seasons of harvest. There's seasons of testing and seasons of breakthrough.

How many of you love to hear a good testimony? You know what? At lunch today, we had lunch with pastor and his wife, and a couple of other ministry people here in town. And somehow or another, it kind of got into testimony time, and different ones were just talking about, I mean, some real amazing things that had happened in their life. But you know what? Every one of those amazing breakthroughs came after a very difficult time that was painful. You can't have a testimony without a test. And the thing we want to be careful of is that after the test, we don't only have the moanies and no testimony. Isn't that funny? I think that's funny.

Song of Solomon 2, "For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone". Somebody say hallelujah. "The flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds have come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land". I want to ask you a question, are you in a winter right now in your life? You know, things are kind of gloomy, bleak, cold, no growth, lots of need, same old, same old, same old.

Well, can I tell you something? Spring is right around the corner. I tell you what, don't ever let the devil steal your hope. I mean, hope is the most powerful motivator. When you continue to have hope, the devil cannot defeat you. And the word "Hope" just simply means that you're expecting something good to happen at any moment. I am expecting something good to happen at any moment. You say, "Well, I'm sick today". Well, expect to be well tomorrow. And if tomorrow you're not well, then expect to be well the next day.

You say, "Well, that's easy for you to say. You don't feel bad". Well, you don't know how I feel. I'll tell you about my year so far, how's that? First of all, October 31, I had my other hip replaced. I had this one done 2 years ago, so I now have two bionic hips, so watch out. And so, you know, I mean, I did great. I was doing great, but it's still a recovery process. You got to go through, you got all the rehab, you got pain, you got the stiffness, you got the swelling, all that stuff. So, I'm 6 weeks into recovery, things are starting to get pretty good. And on December the 24th, I got what appeared to be a sore throat and a cold. I had it for 7 weeks, 7 weeks.

Now, in the midst of that, I had to go to Thailand. So, I spent 39 hours on an airplane. Now, I actually thought I was getting well, then I got back home and got it again. And I think one of the things that was happening was my body was already weak from the surgery, so when that hit, then that made it hard. Then I was starting to get well, then I did the overseas trip, then that weakened me again, you know, on and on and on. But it was hard not to get discouraged.

And you know, one of the things that the enemy tries to tell us, and I'll bring this out a little bit more tomorrow, when you have something going on in your life, you'll hear all the time, "This is never going to end". And some of you are in a place right now in your life where you've just kind of been feeling like this is never going to end. And so, then we start this, "Well, I just don't think I can stand this. I don't know how long I can put up with this". We need to replace all that gloomy conversation with, "I can do all things through Christ who is my strength".

And so, what I did during those 7 weeks, and I'll tell you, I felt really bad a lot of days, like really bad, and more so than what I normally would. And I just kept saying, "Tomorrow's going to be better. Tomorrow's going to be better. God's healing power is working in me. God's healing power is", then I had to take two rounds of antibiotics. Then the antibiotics got my stomach messed up, so then I had to take some stomach medicine, so it's just been fun. But you know what? I'm well and I'm healed for Phoenix.

Now, I'm kind of not real happy that my off time was like that. And I not going to say that I had a great explanation for it, but you know, I found out in my life sometimes God will let me go through things just so I've got something to tell you guys. I believe that. I think that sometimes we go through things just so when you tell other people, "I know how you feel", they're actually going to believe you. How can somebody tell you that they know how you feel if they've got a great life and there's never any challenges or problems in it all the time? Amen?

All right. So, spring is coming. Let's look at what Paul said in Philippians 4:11 and 12. It's too good to just kind of gloss over it. He said, "I'm not implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned", boy, it took me a long time to learn this, "How to be content, satisfied to the point where I'm not disturbed or disquieted". See, I like that. It doesn't mean that you don't ever want change, but you can be satisfied to the point where you're not upset all the time.

"No matter what state I'm in, I know how to be abased and live humbly in straightened circumstances, and I also know how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret", see, we're telling secrets tonight, "The secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare, or going without and being in want". Galatians 6:9, "And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing what is right, for in due time and at the appointed season, we shall reap if we don't loosen or relax our courage, and faint and give up".

What is due time? What is the appointed time? That's an interesting scripture. Well, in due time, at the appointed time. You know, when I was real young in ministry and I was waiting for my ministry to grow in different breakthroughs, you know, different people would give me words from the Lord, and every once in a while there'd be a prophet come to the church. And lo and behold, they'd have a word for me, and it was always this scripture. "Be not weary in well doing, for in due season you shall reap if you faint not".

And the first few times, I got excited. And then I realized I didn't know any more than I did before. Because when is the appointed time? It's when God is ready. And it's when God knows that we're ready. And not only that, I want you to listen to me, whatever it is that you're believing God for, if it involves other people, sometimes you're ready but they're not. And you have to wait on them. When I was waiting for certain things to happen in our ministry, I remember telling God one time, "God, I know I'm ready, I know I'm ready". He said, "Yes, you are, but some of the people that you need to work with you, are not".

Sometimes, you just got to wait on somebody else. Well, while we're waiting, what are we supposed to do? Be patient. Don't you just love that word? I told Dave the other day, I said, "Okay, I've just decided that I'm probably never going to be, like, a totally patient person. And so, I've just decided to embrace that weakness and just take it right on into glory with me".

Now I don't get too wigged out about having to wait on God, but when I've got a goal, I'm so goal-oriented. And I tell you what, when I've got my head set, like I get up in the morning and I'm going to work out, and I'm going to walk, and I'm going to do this, and I'm going to get dressed, and I'm going to eat a bite, and I'm going to get to the office by such and such a time, if people start annoying me with silly stuff, and my husband loves to aggravate me. And so he knows how I am, so he'll say, "Come and give me a hug".

Well, to be honest, when I'm in that kind of a mood, I don't even want a hug. I mean, just to be downright honest, it's like a hug is not in my schedule for that morning. But you know, you can't tell your husband you don't want a hug, so I go over and I get a hug, and he knows that I want to get going, and he'll hold me. When I'm doing something, I'm already, like, mentally onto the next thing. And some of it can get kind of dangerous sometimes. The other day, I got off the treadmill and left it running, went upstairs. I was done, I didn't bother to turn the thing off. I kept hearing this noise and I went... Yeah, it was still just going. It's a good thing I heard it, the motor would've burned up.

Anyway, see, we've all got our stuff. You pray for me, okay? Ecclesiastes 3, I'm not going to read the whole thing, but I do want to read part of it. Verses 1 through 4, "To everything there's a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven. A time to be born, a time to die. A time to plant, a time to pluck up what is planted. A time to kill, a time to heal, a time to break down, a time to build up. A time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance". And then talks about a lot of other things, but verse 11 says, "He has made everything beautiful in its time". You know, even death is beautiful if it's in the timing of the Lord. Amen?

And you know, I've told God, man, "I want to do good at this getting older thing". I don't want to be some grouchy old lady that, you know. And I want to die well. When I go, I want to do it right. I want to go out good, you know? I think we ought to do everything that we do the best way that we possibly can do it. And how many of you do not like change? Well, you better just change your mind here tonight. Because I can tell you that things are always changing, always.

My dentist decided to retire last week. He didn't even tell me. He didn't tell the people that work for him. He just decided that he's going to retire, and he told them, like, kind of on the last day. Well, I just was like, "Ugh, ugh". And Dave's like, "Oh, you're going to love the new guy". I'm like, "How do you know I'm going to love the new guy? I like the old guy". I couldn't do nothing about it. If he decides to retire, there's nothing I can do about it. You know, you look in the mirror and you've got a... I've tried to stretch them out, got pounds of lotion in there and all kinds of stuff, and you know what? You just are gonna get older. That's all there is to it.

One day, I looked at myself in the mirror, and I noticed that a lot of stuff that used to be up here was down here now. Come on. People around you change. And you can't, sometimes it's for the better, but sometimes it's not. I've been friends with some people, I mean, I'm thinking of one relationship, now, I was good friend, good friends with someone like 15 years, and now the person's not even in my life anymore. And it's not bad, it's just that season was over in my life.

And so, here's the thing. If we try to keep hanging on to something when God is finished with it. Come on, I'm going to say this to every section. If we get trying to hang on to something when God is finished with it, there's no point in continuing to try to hang on to something that God's done with and there's no anointing on anymore because all it's going to do is keep you from the next great thing, and probably even the next greater thing that God has for you. I feel real strongly tonight to tell you guys spring is right around the corner.

Come on, don't give up, and don't be afraid of change, and don't keep trying to hang on to something that's just not working anymore. Trust God for something better. He's made everything beautiful in its time. I love that. Every season of our life is part of the whole and it should be embraced. Yes even, the painful seasons. The more we resist, the more it's gonna heart and the longer it's gonna take. All you have to do is think about... Well, I'll put it like this.

I watch a show about an emergency team, medical team, EMTs that go out and they tend all these accident victims and stuff. And I was just thinking while I was studying for this, one of the first things they tell every victim is, "Now, take slow deep breaths. Relax". What do they tell a woman when she is in labor? "Now, breathe. Relax". You know why? Because the more you fight against any kind of emotional pain, or physical pain, or whatever it is, the more it hurts.

And you know, I know some people think, "Well surely, you know, what's going on in my life is just demonic and surely you cannot expect me to embrace that"? I'm not telling you that you have to love the thing, but we do need to learn the secret that God has a purpose in everything he permits in our lives. And even though, we may never understand it, we can trust God that his word is true and he always, here comes another secret, always works everything out for our good to those who love him and want his will, always, always, always, always, always.

My gosh, I look back at my childhood and the stuff that I went through and all the problems that caused in my life. And for so many years, I wished that wouldn't have happened, I hated what happened to me, and I hated the people that did it to me. All it was doing was just ruining my life. And somewhere along the way, I came to the point where I thought, and you know, I guess, maybe, it sounds goofy, I don't know. But I can't even really say now, that I'm sorry it all happened. You know, why? Because that is what made me who I am today. Actually...

C'mon, how many of you, it was your problems that drove you to relationship with Jesus? Man, then you need to thank God for those problems. Because the thing that you thought was your greatest enemy became your greatest friend. Amen? And so, we just need to trust God in things, and let him get us to the point where we have a great testimony that can encourage somebody else in the stuff that they're going through in life. If we continue trusting God, he works everything out for our good. Everything that happens in our life is part of making us who we are.

Now, when bad things happen you have three choices. You can let it destroy you, you can let it make you bitter, or you can let it make you stronger. Amen? I'm a pretty tough old gal 'cause I decided I wasn't going under, I was going over. I decided I was gonna survive and that even though I didn't get a good start in life, I was fully intending to have a good finish. Amen? And I hope somebody here tonight gets a little tenacity and says, "I'm not gonna just whine about my problems the rest of my life. I'm not gonna spend all of my now life resenting what somebody did to me way back here. I'm gonna put that in God's hands. I'm gonna get on with what God has for me. I'm gonna get well, and I'm gonna love every moment of my life".

Now, Joseph has got to be probably one of the best examples in the Bible of just having so many unfair things happen and if the guy had a bad attitude, there's no record of it in the word. And God usually tells us things that are important so I have to assume that he must have not had a bad attitude. Joseph was daddy's favorite. He was the youngest and daddy's favorite. Brothers were jealous.

That's not uncommon. Many times, older siblings get jealous of the baby 'cause the baby usually gets babied. And a lot of times, the older kids have to do a lot of things that the younger ones don't have to do because mom and dad didn't have as much when they were growing up and now they've got more and so they can baby the baby. I know, 'cause I went through all that. I have a child that's 10 years younger than the other three and, yes, he's the baby. And now the three others, if they want something special, they'll send him to get it 'cause they know that, they call him, "The platinum child".

And so Joseph was daddy's favorite. He was the baby and he was daddy's favorite. Well, the older boys were jealous, very jealous. And so they took him out one day, said they were going hunting and, instead, they dug a pit and threw him in it, intending to tell the father that he'd been killed, which they did, by a wild animal. So some slave traders came along and they sold him and then he ended up being sold to a man named Potiphar who was a political man that had, you know, a position of authority.

Well, Potiphar's wife took a liking to Joseph and she wanted him to have sex with her and he maintained his integrity and refused to do it. You know, nothing is more annoying than when you make a right decision and you get a wrong result. Don't you just hate it when you do what's right and the people who are doing what's wrong seem to be the ones that are getting blessed? That's probably one of the hardest things to endure.

And I know there's people here tonight and people over in the overflow rooms, you're going through some stuff and you've been through some stuff and don't stone me when I say this, you may still yet go through some stuff. And so whether you need what I'm saying tonight, whether you needed it yesterday, or whether you're gonna need it next month, this is one of the most important things that you can hear because if we don't learn how to be stable and content, and I don't have to like what's going on but I can still enjoy my life while it's going on.

I did not like the way I felt those 7 weeks, but I have to look back and say, "I still enjoyed my life". I mean, it wasn't as much fun as if I would have felt good but I still enjoyed my life because, really, a lot of enjoying life is just the attitude that you decide to take toward it. And that staying hopeful, God's gonna work this out, he's gonna work it out for good, he's gonna use it in my life, this too will pass. He's not gonna put more on me than what I can bear, tomorrow I'm gonna feel better, all that keeps you motivated to not quit and not give up.

So he got put in prison for, I think, something like 13 years for something he didn't do. While he was in there, he helped a couple of other guys, asked them not to forget him when they got out, which they promptly went out and forgot all about him. Have you ever helped somebody and then when you needed help they forgot all about you? These are real-life things. Well, then the king had a dream that was disturbing him and somebody remembered that Joseph had an ability, a gift from God, to interpret dreams.

So the king called for Joseph to come. He was able to interpret the king's dream and, as a result of that, he got promoted and put into a position where during a 7-year famine he was in charge of all the food that existed. So ultimately, his father who was still alive and his brothers who so cruelly mistreated him came to him not knowing it was Joseph to see if they could get some food. When he revealed to them who he was, they just fell down on their knees and begged for forgiveness and thought he was gonna have 'em killed.

And listen to what he said. It's recorded in Genesis 50:20: "As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good". Well, that's got to help somebody tonight. "But God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are this day". So you might be in a position right now that you don't like but maybe God's getting you in a position to help somebody that you don't even know yet. C.S. Lewis said this: "Hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destinies". C'mon, let's say that again. "Hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destinies".

C'mon, don't waste your pain. Don't just let the things that you've gone through give you a bad attitude. Ask God to use 'em to be a blessing and a help to somebody else. God is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. That means he knows everything from the very beginning, how it's all gonna turn out. And I can tell you spring is right around the corner. Here's another secret. How can you make it through? How can some of these difficult times you go through be made easier? Stop trying to figure it out. Avoid excessive reasoning. "Why, God, why"? You know, even when you think you've got something figured out, you're probably not right.

I read this statement in a book and I really liked it: "We all want an explanation but what God gives us is the incarnation". In other words, he sent Christ and now Christ is in us and it was God in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. We don't need an explanation. We need to know that God is with us, that he loves us, and that his word is true. I don't have to love it but I do need to relax and let it do its work. Four purposes for trials. I think sometimes knowing why something's happening, from a spiritual standpoint. I don't mean, like, all the stuff we get into.

I think sometimes it can help us just to think, "Well, God's doing something with this". At least, it helps me when I'm going through something to think, "Well, God's doing something with this".

Number one purpose: to humble us. Pride is such a huge problem. And I might as well tell you that anybody that's going to be greatly used by God, you're gonna have to go through some stuff because we do not have the ability to stay humble if everything in our life is up, up, up, up, up all the time. Those scriptures where Paul said, "I know how to be abased and I know how to abound", I was questioning or talking with the Lord about that one time, "You know, why do we need both"? And what he showed me was if people never have anything but abounding, abounding, abounding, abounding, abounding, pretty soon we get full of ourselves and we start thinking that, well, we've got it all together and, boy, if everybody just did what we did and they'd be blessed like us.

And you can actually get really judgmental toward other people that are having problems. I mean, we can, really. And so just about the time we get tempted to get into that kind of an attitude, the Lord will give us just a little, a little abasing. And now all of a sudden we're, like, "Oh God, I need you so much. I'm nothing without you. Oh God, I don't ever wanna judge anybody else. I don't ever wanna be critical toward anybody else". 2 Corinthians 12:7: "And to keep me from being puffed up", I love that. Paul said, "To keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness of these revelations".

See, he was a man that was taken up to the third heavens. I mean, he saw things that nobody had ever seen, that he didn't even really fully know how to explain. And he said, "To keep me from being excessively exalted, there was given me a thorn in the flesh", whatever that is. Different people have different ideas. All I know was he didn't like it and he couldn't get rid of it. And he asked God three times to remove it and God said, "No, my grace is sufficient for you". Let me say it again. Well, Paul said, "A wide door of opportunity opened unto me and with it many adversaries".

If you're gonna be used by God, and especially if you wanna be greatly used by God, you're gonna get a little bit of the other stuff to go along with it because if you don't, you'd get so full of yourself that God would not be able to use you. It's yet to be seen what God could do through a man or a woman that will give him all the credit, amen? Sometimes, we have difficulty come into our life for a season. Remember, spring's right around the corner. Nothing lasts forever. Sometimes, it's just to make us more dependent on God. To be honest, sometimes we need a little something that we just can't handle, that's just too much for us. Nothing puts you on your knees faster than something that you just can't do anything about and God's the only one who can fix it.

Has anybody got one of those going on in your life right now? You're at a place where, man, if God doesn't do it, it's not gonna get done? You know, the apostle Paul for all the great things that God did through him, he had a boatload full of problems. I mean, he really did. And you know, we can't read the Bible and not pay attention to that kind of stuff. We can't just say, "Well, I wanna be like Paul", and think we're gonna just get out of some of the other stuff that Paul had to go through.

Let me tell you something. Forty years ago when I started trying to teach, as a woman, man, it was tough. I mean, it was hard. I was judged and criticized. I was asked to leave my church. I lost my friends. I got ostracized by family. I spent a lot of lonely years, and a lot of hard years, and I didn't just wake up one morning and step on a pulpit like this. I did 5 years of home Bible studies. I quit a full-time job to try to study and get ready for ministry.

We had 6 years of really financial need during those periods of time. And I didn't understand. I thought, "Well, God, I gave my job up so I can serve you and why are we now, we just don't", you know, "Now we don't, I don't understand. I made a big sacrifice". You know, every time you make a sacrifice, that doesn't mean you're gonna reap a harvest the next day. Sometimes, there'll be testing to see if you really mean it. And you might have to sacrifice again and again and again and again and, you know, we have to stop serving God to get him to do something for us, and serve him because of who he is and let him know we're gonna serve you if we never get anything. Amen?

Let's seek God's face and not his hand. We don't need to just go to him all the time to get something. We need to go to him because we can't live without him. We are nothing without him, amen? I mean, I've had media attacks and just, I mean, just stuff, stuff. In the midst of my ministry I had breast cancer, went through all that, just, you know, lots of different things happen. But I'm still here. And see, that's the good news, I'm still here. And the enemy wants to take you out with the things that happen but you need to make your mind up, this is gonna pass. Spring is right around the corner. Something good is gonna happen to me and it's gonna happen maybe tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, I'll still be around the next day.

God works all things out for my good. He never allows more to come on me than what I can bear. But with every temptation he also provides the way out. These are the secrets to being content no matter what you're going through. Now, you know what, tonight I'm preaching to you. But when you get home you're gonna have to preach to yourself. We feel good in church. Go as often as you can because you need it, amen? Get back tomorrow, tomorrow night. Come Sunday if you can. I mean, just get all the outside help you can get. But sooner or later, it's gonna be your midnight hour and it's gonna be nobody but you and God, and you're gonna have to learn how to preach to yourself.

That's when you need to get these messages out and talk to yourself. I talk to myself all the time. "C'mon, Joyce, we need to have a meeting. You're gonna straighten up your attitude". I was in kind of a cranky mood one of those days when I wasn't feeling good and my daughter came over and she could tell everything was bugging me and she came back a little bit later and I was a lot better and she said, "Well, you sure changed". I said, "Well, I had a meeting with myself".

2 Corinthians 1:8-9, Paul said, "We do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about the affliction and the oppressing distress which befell us in the province of Asia, how we were so utterly and unbearably weighed down and crushed that we despaired even of life itself". Well, I've felt like that sometimes. Paul was saying, "It was so bad, I just wanted to die". "Indeed, we felt within ourselves that we had received the very sentence of death, but", listen to this, "But that was to keep us from trusting in and depending on ourselves instead of on God who raises the dead". Really, God?

The third reason that difficulties will come into our life is just to test our faith. You don't know what you believe 'til it's put to the test and I don't either. We have all the faith scriptures underlined. That doesn't mean that we're really walking in faith. It's easy to say "Amen" in church but where we need to say it is out there.

1 Peter 1:7: "So that the genuineness of your faith might be tested, your faith which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. This proving of your faith is intended to redound to your praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the anointed one) is revealed".

How many of you think you're going through a test right now? Can I give you a word of encouragement? Why don't you just go ahead and pass it so you don't have to take it again? Yeah, it took me about 20 years to get a hold of that one. I don't wanna live my whole life going around and around the same stupid mountains and so, God, let's just get this over with.

The fourth reason why I believe that trials can come into our life and I think this is really a large part of it. I think it's to equip us to help other people. I don't know how we can ever relate to hurting people if everything in our life just comes up roses all the time. "Blessed be", 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. Let's really take a look at these scriptures 'cause they are so good.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God who is the source of every comfort", verse 4, "Who comforts us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we might be able to comfort those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God".

So my gosh, he's saying God is the source of all comfort and he comforts us so we might be able then to go and comfort others with that same comfort that he comforted us with. That's why I can stand here and tell you if you've been sexually abused as a child, God will heal you. And me telling you that brings comfort to you. And I know that because it worked in my life. And if it worked in my life, it'll work in your life.

You know something? Whatever it is that's going on in your life right now that you don't like, it's gonna make you appreciate spring so much more. C'mon, let me say it again. Spring is right around the corner. You've got some good things on the horizon of your life, amen? Now, just bow your head for a moment, I wanna pray for everybody here that's going through stuff, right now.

Father, I pray for everybody here tonight that if they are going through something difficult, that somehow these words encourage them. Maybe, for some, it's helping prepare them for a season ahead. But I pray that nobody will be afraid of difficulty because you have anointed us to do hard things. We can do whatever we need to do through Christ, who is our strength. I thank you Lord, that springtime is coming. And I pray that they will leave tonight, completely filled with hope that tomorrow is gonna be a better day. In Jesus' name.

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