Steven Furtick - Facing Your Disappointment
This is an excerpt from: When Never Meets Now
Some of you feel like Martha. You sent for Jesus, and he never came. You prayed, and he never came. You asked, and it never changed. You tried, and it never works. You did it, and it never made sense. So, I want you to do what Martha did in John 11:20. It says she heard Jesus was coming. Somebody say, "He's here". He's not coming one day. He's here right now. He's at the gate. He is the gate. He is the way, the truth, and the life. She went out to meet him. What happens when never meets now? So, he didn't come when you wanted him, like you wanted him, how you wanted him, but he's here now. So, it didn't happen like you wanted, when you wanted, how you wanted. So, he didn't answer what you prayed, how you prayed, when you prayed, like you prayed, but he's here now.
So, you didn't do what you should have, what you could have, what you would have. So, you wasted the last couple of years wandering around, so you're disoriented, so you did it, so you missed it, so you lost it, so you let it slip away, but you're here now. This is for somebody. I had to call Martha, because if I just preached about Peter, this message would be for the men. So, I wanted Martha with Peter so they could both tell you the same thing, that it's at the gate now. I had a man tell me, "I've never given to the church, but when I die, I'm going to will $10,000". This is what I thought: "God has to kill you to get $10,000? How are you smart enough to have $10,000 to give and stupid enough to say something like that"?
Now. You'd better give it now. You'd better grab them, hug them, love them now. Am I preaching? She heard Jesus was coming. She sent for him when Lazarus was sick. He never came. That's the first thing she told him: "You never came". So, you invite God into your never. "God, I'll be honest. I don't even really feel like this is going to work for me. I've started a lot of new years like this on the 'no shrimp' diet". But you're here now. You could have died. You almost quit. You wouldn't have been at church tomorrow to hear this message, so God had me preach it now. Everything changes when never meets now. I think this is more than a sermon. I think it's a meeting. I think it's a divine appointment for somebody who has been in neverland, and it hasn't happened, and you don't see how it's going to happen, so I could remind you that a lot of your nows used to be nevers.
I wrote a song years ago that said, "You've never failed me yet. I've seen you move the mountains, and I believe… You've never failed me yet". My buddy Robert Madu went to a church. He was the guest preacher, and they were singing that song "Do It Again," and they changed it. He said it was weird. The way we wrote it, it says: Your promise still stands Great is your faithfulness I'm still in your hands This is my confidence You've never failed me yet. He said when they got to that part, they didn't say, "Yet". They just said, "You've never failed me". He asked the pastor, and the pastor said, "We don't like that part, because when it says yet, it implies that he might".
See, I think the word yet implies that God's past faithfulness is the best predictor of his future performance. It means that if he kept me breathing… Have you ever stood next to an answered prayer? Have you ever stood in the living proof of a moved mountain? Have you ever just fogged a mirror with your breath to annoy the Devil that it didn't work when he tried to kill you? I'm telling you, you've never been here before. Be easy on yourself. Be patient with your process. Be open to what God is doing in this season. Be like Martha. Get your disappointed butt down there to the gate and ask Jesus why he never came. Be like Peter. Go downstairs and see about this thing God sent you. It's at the gate. It's standing there. God sent it. It might not look familiar. It might be weird. It might not be what you prayed for. It might not smell like ribs, but God sent it. Hey, you can't hesitate. You have to move now. Thirty miles.
I grew up in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. Tiny town. Not too tiny now. There are 20,000 people now, they said…something like that. It was much smaller when I was there. So, when people would ask me, "Where are you from"? I couldn't tell them, "Moncks Corner". I would have to say, "From a town that's 30 miles north of Charleston called Moncks Corner". Joppa was 30 miles from Caesarea. When I lived that close to Charleston, I never went. Now Holly and I spend our vacation days there. I never went when it was so close. Now I appreciate it more. I wonder what God has given you now that you never stopped to enjoy. I want you thinking about this message for a long time. I want you to ask the Holy Spirit long after I shut up, "What are the nevers I've accepted that I need to reject? What are the nevers I need to accept"? Y'all, the time for me to be in the NBA has come and gone. Do you understand?
I'm not going to be a brain surgeon at this stage in my life. I'm good with that. I've accepted that. I'm a heart surgeon. I'm a soul surgeon. She said, "Jesus, we sent for you. You never came". She expressed her frustration. It's so beautiful. She said, "Lord, if you would have been here, my brother would not have died". This is where God told me to leave you at the gate, Peter, Martha. I'm leaving you at the gate here with this verse, verse 22: "But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask".
When she said, "Now," she recognized the presence of God. When you recognize his presence, you are open to his power. Jesus looked back at her with a question. Here it is: "Your brother will rise again". Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day". And Jesus said, "I am…" That's present tense. Present tense isn't going to happen one day. It didn't happen one day and now it's gone. Jesus said, "I am here. I am powerful. I am able. I am faithful now". My favorite Scripture says, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine".
Now. I never paid attention to that word. When you're reading the Bible this week, because I know you read it for three hours a day… When you're reading the Bible, praying on the roof, and a sheet comes down this week, just look at every time you see the word now, and look at every time you see the word never. Ask the Lord, "Did that never come from you? Did that never come from the Devil? Did that never come from my biases? Is that never limited to a season of life"? Listen. Some of us are chained to limitations that do not exist anymore in this season. It used to be true, and it's not anymore. It used to be true that the Gentiles couldn't come to the God of Israel, but it's not anymore, because he tore the veil. His presence has no limits, has no borders. Jesus said, "The one who believes…"
Do you believe? A little bit of faith, mustard-seed faith. "He who believes in me will live even though they die, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die". It is not dead. It is not over. It is not finished. Your best days are not in a rearview mirror. No, no, no. You are to drag your nevers into the presence of your now. Spoiler alert: Lazarus got up. Even now, in the face of never.