As the pastor of America’s largest church, Joel Osteen and his family are no strangers to criticism, challenges and hard times. From a well-documented lawsuit filed by a flight attendant in 2008 to bloggers both secular and Christian putting him on blast for his preaching, he could have easily felt persuaded to throw in the towel. But, if there is one thing Joel knows about, it is how to rely on God to help him overcome adversity.
Osteen is providing a strong example for how to rise above the noise and distractions that can happen in our own lives after an April Fool’s Day prank gone awry in the 24-hour cable news cycle. Here are five things we should take from the pastor’s latest trial.
1. Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Joy
As Joel often preaches at Houston’s Lakewood Church, everyone has the option of happiness. One way we can stay in joy is to decline to allow anyone to spoil our day. Speaking to KPRC-TV, Joel said there were no hard feelings after a hoaxer slandered his name, convincing people via the Internet that he was not only leaving Christianity to form his own religion, but leaving the church. “We are too blessed to be angry at anybody,” Joel said. “Sometimes people have too much time on their hands and they want to create a stir.” Fortunately for his church and those who support the pastor, he remains unstirred himself.
When you face adversity, know that it’s only the enemy working your nerves to prevent you from reaching God’s plan for your life. John 10:10 (NLT) says it best: “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” Don’t be stirred to anger. Just leave those people and distractions behind you in the rear view mirror and trust that God will see you through.
2. Speak Favor and Increase Over Your Life
Proverbs 18:21 tells us that the power of life and death is in the tongue. Rather than condemn the person who put together this elaborate hoax, Joel instead chose to speak blessing over his church. “All is well, everything is great, the church was full on Sunday,” he said to one Houston TV station. He also said he expected that Lakewood Church would see an increase. Since the hoax hit last Tuesday, Lakewood Church has seen double the amount of followers on Twitter and Facebook, meaning more people will see his messages–and hopefully, move people towards engaging others through the love of Christ.
Remember to always make your words sweet and never speak lack, sickness or problems into your life. Jesus said in John 11:22: “But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.” Speak increase. Speak favor. Speak health. Speak wisdom. Pray and be ready to receive.
3. Live in an Atmosphere of Faith and Thanksgiving
God works where faith is alive, Joel has preached. Keeping an attitude of faith helps us to not only sustain the joy in our lives (which we know comes from the Lord, according to Psalm 84:5), but it also activates the blessing in our lives. Lifting up praise to God and giving thanks for what we do have in our lives grows the spirit man inside of you and moves the Father to work miracles in our lives. Favor is within reach for those who choose to believe and show gratitude throughout their day, in the face of adversity and disappointment.
Don’t let a bad day at work or a flat tire on a busy day prevent you from exercising your faith. You will see God’s goodness when you do.
4. Know That a False Report Against You Will Not Stick
God will protect the believer from false witnesses. When someone slanders your name, it is easy to become frustrated or try to avenge the falsehoods spoken against you. But, know that if you will keep your faith and trust in God, he will show the integrity of that report. Proverbs 19:5 (KJV) illustrates this fact: “A false witness shall not be unpunished, and [he that] speaketh lies shall not escape.” Pastor Joel is now reaping God’s help in fighting against the hoaxer. In 2008, Victoria Osteen was exonerated by a jury after an airline attendant accused her of assault.
Slander will not stand against the believer of the Lord.
5. Remain Unmoved: No Attack Can Prosper Against You!
When someone hurts you or when you face adversity, know that what the enemy meant for your harm will be used for your good, Joel says. “No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you,” reads Isaiah 54:17 (NIV). “This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me.” Don’t be dissuaded in your faith or allow fear to seep in. Remember this: God will keep you from harm, and he has promised in Zechariah 9:11-12 that he will give you two blessings for each of your troubles.