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2021 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - Finding Purpose In Your Pain

Steven Furtick - Finding Purpose In Your Pain

Steven Furtick - Finding Purpose In Your Pain
TOPICS: Purpose, Pain

You know God is using everything in your life, don't you? This incident is important, and it's what I wanted to ask you about today as we talk about finishing the year with God's favor. It says after building an altar to God in Bethel and remembering everything God did, Jacob and his crew moved on from Bethel, the house of God, the place where God met with him. "While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth…" Which I think is a little bit redundant, because I watched this happen three times. I think every time there's a birthing there's also a breaking. But that's just me, as somebody who started a church, as somebody who's trying to bear fruit in every season of my life.

But this is extreme now. This is not just a normal difficulty. This is actually a matter of life and death. In the middle of this, the midwife said to Rachel, "Don't despair, for you have another son". Watch this. "As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin". This is going to require a little bit of explanation to translate Ben-Oni, which means child or son of my trouble. Ben is the part that means son; Oni is the part that means trouble, or some translators put it sorrow. Either way you put it, it's pain. As she's breathing her last breath, understandably, she names the child she is birthing out of the pain she's experiencing. Her perspective is "This is costing me my life". In a very poetic record, the writer of Genesis tells us that as she was breathing her last breath, this baby was breathing its first breath. We see here the confluence of the origin of Benjamin, who would actually represent the kingly tribe of Israel, but he wasn't called Benjamin, because his mother named him out of her pain: Ben-Oni. "But his father named him Benjamin".

But his father, who just lost the only woman he really ever loved, who just lost the thing he worked 14 years to obtain… In the middle of his loss (watch this, because this is what God is challenging us to do right now), he decides to label not according to what he's about to bury but about what was birthed out of what he buried. Now, many of us (this is not a cotton candy Christmas message) have had to bury a lot of things this year. Even as a ministry, we had to bury every plan we had for opening new campuses, for the ways we thought we would reach people, for every Elevation Worship tour we booked in NBA arenas… For everything we planned this year, there were funerals we had to have, and you did too. What inspired me about the text was found not in the fact that it was his favorite wife he buried. You know, in that is a sermon, but what got me about it that I never saw when I preached it five years ago… It says, "Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel's tomb". Back up to verse 19, because I think this is powerful. "So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)".

I read how Rachel, the woman Jacob loved, was buried just outside of Bethlehem. Then I read how Micah said that out of Bethlehem will be born a ruler who will dash the princes of men into pieces and whose kingdom will know no end. Then I read about Mary, who was highly favored, who gave birth through a virgin womb to the world's greatest salvation. It brought to me this question…Do we know Bethlehem better by what was buried there or what was born there? I want to ask this question about your Bethlehem. Remember we sing "O little town of Bethlehem" like it's cute. Bethlehem was not where Mary's OB-GYN was located. Did you know they weren't supposed to be in Bethlehem when Jesus was born?

I know this sounds weird. Jesus picked a bad time to come into the world. He picked the worst time to come into the world. And we think everything has to be just right for God to do something in our lives. No, no, no. They were only in Bethlehem because Joseph's family was from there, and maybe they still had some land there. The Bible doesn't say, but they had to go back under Caesar Augustus because there was a census happening, and everybody had to go back to their hometown. While they were on the way, just trying to get their business done, here comes Jesus. I found out God is a lot like that. At the worst possible moment, he will give you the greatest possible opportunity. It's almost like this year we're being presented a question. Are we going to label this year by what we buried or by what was born? I messed up. I should have asked at the beginning of the sermon "What is Bethlehem"? I guarantee you none of you would have said, "The place where Rachel died". That's how Jacob would have remembered it, because he buried her on the way to Bethlehem, and he renamed his son.

Oh, by the way, he named his son Benjamin, which doesn't mean son of my trouble. It's a play on words, because Oni can either mean trouble or wealth. Instead of naming the child after what he lost in that moment, he named his son Benjamin. Benjamin doesn't mean son of my trouble or son of my wealth. It means son of my right hand. The right hand is the hand of blessing. The right hand is the hand of authority. So, the word God gave me for you today is: don't bury your blessing. What happens to us is, as we journey along the way, we lose a lot of things, and the temptation is for us to identify with what we lost, and then we start labeling our lives according to those losses. Well, that limits us to what we can receive. But if you can make a decision at this point in the year to call his name Jesus… See, Jesus came from Bethlehem. Jesus was born in the place where Rachel was buried. Don't you see it? That's the same place David came from: Bethlehem. That little boy with the little rock who took down a big giant… That's why Micah said, "Out of you, Bethlehem, will come the salvation of the world". The salvation of the world came out of a small, impossible place. That's why I called it the year of the Lord's favor: because God said it was. But God said, the Father said… She named him Ben-Oni.

Your facts are trying to name your life right now. Favor over facts. Let me break this down. Rachel had a baby. She died giving birth to him. Mary had a baby, and she never even had the experience of sexual intercourse. God saw potential in Mary that was greater than her experience. In Luke, chapter 1, when the Bible says the angel called her highly favored… On a 1 to 10 scale, I want you to know you're a level 10 favored by your Father in heaven. I like to believe things my eyes can't see right now. That's why I need one of those machines like that cardiologist had. Because you're looking at me like, "Nuh-uh. I don't feel very highly favored. I don't feel pregnant. I feel fat, but I don't feel pregnant". Let me tell you something right now. Out of Bethlehem came Jacob's greatest pain. Out of Bethlehem came God's greatest purpose. So, what are you going to get out of it? This is not only a year for us to decide what we're going to give to this ministry. Yeah, we're giving an offering this weekend, and God is going to use that to take the gospel all over the world, and it's a privilege to do it. But what are you going to get out of it? He said, "Out of Bethlehem will come for me a great king".

Mary had to believe that. I think this is the tension. I think this is why we struggle to believe it. I think this is what blocks us from believing that the favor of God is on our lives and that the purpose of God is working in our lives. How many struggle to believe that sometimes? Mary experienced favor and fear. Favor over fear. Then look at verse 34. "How will this be, since I am a virgin"? As I read that verse, I realized we don't give birth to Christ in the same way Mary did. This has only happened once. So, if your girl tries to pull this Bible verse on you, you probably shouldn't marry her, because this is just a one-time thing. But Christ is being birthed in all of us, and so is his purpose, and so is the fruit of the Spirit. When Mary said, "Since I am a virgin," I realized all we have to do to really understand the power of choosing favor over fear, favor over facts, is to put whatever limits us right there where she said "a virgin". "Since I am an addict. Since I am divorced. Since I am an orphan. Since I am…"

You know, little things we get caught up on, like how much money we have in the bank. They call that our net worth. It's not really your worth, but since they call it that, you start to believe that. "Since I am broke". Then you put an event and make it an identity. "Since I am a failure". That's what happens when you focus too much on what you buried to see what is being born. I was telling my oldest the other day… I said, "Isn't it interesting how she's limited to her experience but God speaks according to her potential"? If we experienced this year so much pain, so much fear, so much loss, so much uncertainty, so many times where we bumped our head right up against the thing we thought wasn't going to happen, and it did happen, or we thought it was going to happen… When we bump our heads one too many times into disappointment, we begin to call our lives whatever we buried. "Oh, Bethlehem. That's the place where…" "Oh, 2020".

Y'all, 2020 got a bad rap, because all we can focus on right now is what we buried this year, but we don't yet know what is going to be born from what we buried. There might be a better job on the other side of this for you. Do you hear me? There might be more peace on the other side of this, so God shut down some systems and some things to get you focused on your Father. I love Jacob. Jacob is like, "God changed my name, and I'm going to change the name of this thing that was born in pain, but it was born on purpose". Don't bury your blessing. You shove it down, and you force it down. You got disappointed, so now you just buried that. The problem is you are burying the blessing along with it. He said, "Son of my right hand". I'm naming my season according to what God is bringing out of it. So, I want to say about 2020, not only did I have to bury a lot, but I got a lot out of it.

I learned some things about myself that I didn't like. Then I had to confront them. And guess what happened when I confronted them. God gave me grace for them, and he showed me that he loves me even through all that. Even some of the stuff I don't like… That's what he wants to use. I got a lot out of it. I know that sounds funny to say that, because we did lose a lot. Maybe you lost more than me. I'm not saying this in some pretty little preacher way, prancing up here in the pulpit, talking about these little things preachers say. But if you have faith to know that what is being born is greater than what you're burying, then say it right now. "I got a lot out of it". "Hey, 2020, I appreciate you. You gave me my sight back. You taught me how to seek the kingdom. You taught me how to walk by faith. I got a lot out of it. Bethlehem isn't the place where I buried Rachel; it's the place where my Savior was born".
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