Full text of Joel Osteen’s sermon titled “Don’t Waste Your Pain” which was delivered in February 2016.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Notable quote from this message:
But if you go through a painful time and you don’t come out with what you were supposed to learn, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Joel Osteen – Pastor, Televangelist
God bless you! It’s always a joy to come into your homes and you ever in our area, please stop by and be a part of one of our services. I promise you we’ll make you feel right at home. But thanks so much for tuning in today, and thank you again for coming out.
And I’d like to start with something funny. And I heard about these four Catholic ladies. They were bragging on their sons. The first one said, “My son is a Priest. When he walks in the room, everyone calls him Father.”
The second said, “My son is a Bishop. When he walks in the room, everyone calls him Your Grace.
The third said, “My son is a Cardinal. When he walks in the room, everyone calls him Your Eminence.”
Fourth lady said, “My son is six foot, three; has broad shoulders, is incredibly good looking, dresses impeccably well. When he walks in the room, all the ladies say ‘Oh My God’.”
All right. Come on say it like you mean it.
This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I have what it says I have. I can do what it says I can do. Today I will be taught the word of God. I boldly confess my mind is alert; my heart is receptive; I will never be the same; in Jesus’ name. God bless you.
I want to talk to you today about “Don’t waste your pain”.
We all go through disappointments, setbacks, loss. Pain is a part of life. It’s easy to get discouraged, even bitter, think, “Why is this happening to me”?
But one of the best principles I’ve learned is don’t put a question mark where God has put a period. All of us have things we don’t understand. One reason is we can’t see the big picture for our lives.
If you have a puzzle, on the front of the box there’s the picture. You see what it’s supposed to look like. Maybe it’s a sunset overlooking the ocean. As a whole, it’s fantastic, so beautiful.
But if you were to take one piece and isolate it, you would think, “Look at this funny-looking piece. It’s a mistake, it’s not going to fit anywhere. It’s an odd shape. There’s nothing beautiful about it.”
But the fact is that piece has a perfect place. It’s already been fitted, planned, designed. When the other pieces come together, it will fit in.
The reason you can’t see it now is because they all are not in place yet. In the same way, sometimes we look at pieces in our lives that don’t make sense.
“Joel, I went through a divorce. I lost a loved one. I’m going through cancer. My business went down. This piece couldn’t be a part of God’s plan.”
But you have to trust that, even in the painful times, the times you’re hurting, you’re lonely, you’re taking the treatment, on the surface that piece doesn’t make sense. But God doesn’t make any mistakes. He’s already designed your life, laid out all the pieces down to the smallest details, and God never said that we would understand everything that happens along the way.
He didn’t promise that we’d never have any heartache, pain, disappointment, loss, setbacks. But he did promise that it would all work out for our good, and that piece that’s painful, doesn’t look like it makes any sense, when everything comes together, it will fit perfectly into place.
The key is what we do in our times of pain. Pain will change us. Heartache, loss, disappointments, they don’t leave us the same.
When I lost my father, I didn’t come out like I was before, I was changed. If you go through a divorce, a legal battle, a friend betrays you, eventually that will pass. You’ll get through it, but you will be different.
Now, how the pain changes you is up to you. You can come out bitter, or you can come out better. You can come out with a chip on your shoulder, blaming God, or you can come out stronger, with a greater confidence in God. You can come out defeated, giving up on your dreams, or you can come out with a new passion, a new fire, excited about the new opportunities in front of you.
All of us experience pain. My challenge: don’t just go through it, grow through it. That difficulty is an opportunity to get stronger, to develop character, to gain new confidence. Anybody can give up. Anybody can let it overwhelm you. But you know what that’s doing? Wasting your pain. That pain is not there to stop you. It’s there to prepare you, to increase you, to develop you.
The scripture talks about how God is in control not just of our lives, but he’s in control of our enemies. Satan had to ask God for permission to test Job. The enemy may turn on the fire, but the good news is God has his hand on the thermostat. God controls how much heat, how much pain, how much adversity. He knows what we can handle. If it was going to harm us rather than help us, God would have turned back the intensity.
In those tough times, when you’re uncomfortable, going through a loss, dealing with an illness, you could easily let it overwhelm you. It’s helpful to remind yourself, “I may be in this fire, but I know who controls the temperature. The God who breathed life into me, the God who is for me and not against me, the God who crowned me with favor, the God who takes pleasure in prospering me, he’s in complete control. He’s not going to let it get too hot. He’s not going to let it defeat me. I may not like it, but I’m not a whiner, I’m a warrior. I know I can handle this.”
You have that attitude, you’ll come out stronger, increased, promoted, better than you were before.
We’ve all heard the saying, “No pain, no gain”. If everything was always easy, we wouldn’t be prepared for our destiny. Some of the things I face today, if I would have faced them ten years ago, they would have overwhelmed me. I couldn’t handle it back then. God knows what you need, when you need it.
Every struggle is making you stronger. Every difficulty is growing you up. Every painful time, even though you don’t like it, it’s developing something in you that can only be developed in the tough times. Don’t complain about the pain. Without the pain, we couldn’t reach the fullness of our destinies.
Researchers did an experiment with bumblebees. They took them up into space to study the effects of weightlessness on them, and the bees floated through the air with great ease, didn’t have to use their wings. I’m sure they thought, “This is the way we were made to live, no struggle, no adversity, no resistance”.
For a few days, everything was great. But on the fourth day, something happened. They all died. They loved it being easy, no adversity. But the problem was they weren’t created to not have any resistance.
In the same way, we were not created to float through life on flowery beds of ease. We’re going to the sweet by and by, but we are living in the nasty now and now. We’d love to not have any pain, loss, disappointments, heartaches, betrayal. That’s not reality. Difficulties are a part of life. Have the right perspective.
In those tough times, God is getting you prepared. If it was too much, he would have turned back the temperature. He’s got his hand on the thermostat. Now, quit telling yourself you can’t take it. You’re not weak; you are well able. You are armed with strength for this battle. You are full of can-do power.
The reason the fire is so hot is because God has something amazing in your future. He’s getting you prepared for the next level of your destiny.
See, God doesn’t just randomly say, “Let me give them some pain to make their life miserable. Let me hit her with a sickness. Let me hit him with some marriage problems.” There is a purpose for the pain. We may not always understand it. “Joel, why did I get sick? Why did I lose my loved one? Why did my marriage not make it”? I can’t answer that.
But I can tell you if God allowed it, he knows how to bring good out of it. This is what faith is all about. “God, I don’t like the pain, but I trust you. I believe you’re in control. Now, I’m not going to just go through it, I’m going to grow through it. I’m going to keep a good attitude. I’m going to count it all joy, knowing that this pain is leading to my gain.”
Sometimes we bring pain on ourselves. We make poor choices, and get into relationship we know is not good, or maybe get over our head in our spending, and now it’s painful. We’re having to deal with the consequences, and God is full of mercy. He’ll always give us the grace to get out of it.
But the way to not waste your pain is you have to learn the lesson. Be big enough to look back and say, “Okay, here’s where I missed it. I ignored the warnings. I got involved in something that I shouldn’t have. I got out of God’s timing, got in a hurry. Not going to do that anymore.”
There’s a lesson in the pain. Don’t be hard-headed and have to keep going through the same pain again and again.
A man I know has struggled with diabetes most of his life. He ended up a month in the hospital, and I saw him recently, he looks better than ever. He said, “Joel, that stay in the hospital was a wake-up call for me. I’ve lost 40 pounds. I’ve changed my diet. I exercise every day. I feel like a new man.”
What was he doing? Not wasting the pain. He learned the lesson.
And we talk a lot about letting go of the past, letting go of the mistakes, the failures, the divorce, and yes, that’s true, but another way to say it is remember the lesson. Remember what you learned in the experience, and then let go of the negative event.
But if you go through a painful time and you don’t come out with what you were supposed to learn, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
I talked to a man awhile back, and he was about to get married for his fifth time. And I didn’t know and I’m not judging him, I don’t know his story, but he made a statement, “Joel, pray for me. All of my wives end up running around on me”. I didn’t say it, but I thought to myself, “The one common denominator in this thing is you.”
There is a lesson in that pain somewhere that he’s missing. Don’t keep repeating the same mistakes again and again.
It’s like this guy I heard, he was driving his car and had an accident, got out so upset. Went over to the other driver and said, “Lady, you need to learn how to drive. You’re the fourth person that’s run into me today”.
Here’s my question: Are you bringing pain on yourself? Are you struggling in a relationship, not fulfilled because you keep saying everything you feel like saying?
Here’s a newsflash: the pain will stop if you zip it up. Don’t just go through it, grow through it.
Other times, we experience pain that have nothing to do with our choices. Wasn’t our fault. We were doing the right thing, and the wrong thing happened.
The scripture says rain falls on the just and the unjust. You can be the just, honoring God, being your best, helping others, and it rains in your life. There are forces of darkness trying to keep you from your destiny. God could have stopped it, but he didn’t, and even though it’s painful now, if you’ll stay in faith, that will lead you toward your destiny.
The age of 48, my mom was doing the right thing, raising five of us children, helping my dad pastor the church. Life was good. Then it started raining. She was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer given a few weeks to live. That was not only uncomfortable physically, obviously, but it was also painful emotionally. Thinking about possibly leaving her children, leaving her husband.
But my mom didn’t get depressed. She didn’t get bitter and start blaming God. Her attitude was: “God, my life is in your hands. I know you promised the number of my days you will fulfill.”
People don’t have the final say. God, I know you have the final say. It didn’t happen overnight. But little by little my mother got better and better.
Today 34 years later, she’s not only still healthy and whole. But here’s my point. In that difficult time, out of that pain, God burst something new on the inside. She started going around praying for other people who were sick. Till this day, she goes up to the medical center every week and has a prayer service in the chapel.
The very thing that was meant to destroy her, God used it to push her into a new level of her destiny. Friends, God knows how to take your mess and turn it into your message. Take what was meant for harm and use it to your advantage.
There are times like with my mom, God will allow us to go through a season of difficulty so he can burst something new on the inside. Paul said in Corinthians, the comfort we receive in our difficulties, now we can share that same comfort with other people in their time of need.
When you go through something you don’t understand, doesn’t make sense, starting to getting negative, bitter; God, why did this happen? Have a new perspective. The reason God allowed it is because he can trust you. He knows he can count on you to take the same love, the same healing, the same encouragement and share it with others.
Even though that struggle with cancer was very difficult for my mother, she talks about how she wouldn’t change it. She wouldn’t have it any different. The pain was for a greater purpose.
Maybe you’ve been through something you don’t understand, like my mama sickness, abuse, infertility, you’re raising a difficult child. Life hasn’t turned out the way you’d hoped. It’s painful. It’s easy to take on a victim mentality. Joel, if God was good, why did this happen to me? Why did these people mistreat me growing up? Why do I have this bad brain? It’s because God knows he can trust you.
The forces of darkness tried to take you out. But God had his hand on the thermostat. He said, “Not so fast. That’s my son. That’s my daughter. I’ve got an assignment for them to fulfill.”
Just like God said the Satan, you can test job, but you can’t take his life. He’s not going to quit serving me. I know what Job’s made of. God is saying the same thing about you. It may be painful, but I know what they’re made of. It may be difficult, may not be fair, but I’m not only going to bring them out. I’m going to bring them out better. And I’m going to use them to help other people who are struggling in the same areas.
God can trust you. There’s a purpose for that pain.
Do you know how many businesses, charities, ministries have been birthed out of pain?
May of 1980, Candy Lightner received a phone call saying that her 13-year old daughter Carrie had been hit by a car walk into church. Unfortunately, Carrie lost her life that day. This mother was devastated. She didn’t think she could go on, until she learned the man driving the car was under the influence of alcohol. And he was a repeat offender. When she heard that something rose up in her like she had never felt.
In her late daughter’s bedroom, she started a new organization, no money, no influence, no experience. She called it MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Today, her organization has saved hundreds of 1000s of lives, changed laws, influenced policy.
Candy Lightner understands this principle. She didn’t waste her pain. No, it didn’t bring her daughter back. But she knew there was a purpose for that pain. She could have sat around depressed, bitter, blaming God. But she didn’t put a question mark, where God put a period. That piece in her puzzle didn’t make sense at the time. But she believed that when everything came together, it would fall perfectly into place. That’s exactly what happened.
Today she’s impacting the world. Most of us will never experience anything as tragic as Candy did. But if she can take one of the greatest pains in life, and turn it around to become a force for good, I believe you and I can find a purpose in our pain.
Don’t get caught up in where this piece to my puzzle fits; your doesn’t make sense. This is not a good piece. Keep moving forward. Do like she did: go out and encourage somebody else. Healing comes when you get your mind off of your own pain, what you lost, what didn’t work out, and you go help others.
But as long as you stay focused on yourself, you’re going to get stuck. There’s a blessing in that pain. You have something to give others. You can encourage people who are going through what you’ve been through.
A lady I know got a bad medical report and doctors found what they thought was a cancerous tumor. And we prayed right here that the report would come back negative. But indeed, they found out it was cancer. She’s been coming to Lakewood for a long time. She knew she’s not a victim. She’s a victor. She knew God wouldn’t allow it unless he could bring good out of it.
Like my mother, she didn’t get defeated. Her attitude was: God, I know I’m in the palm of your hand. Nothing can snatch me away. God, I don’t understand it, but I trust you.
For one year she took chemotherapy; wasn’t easy. She lost all her hair, got very sick. But today she is 11 years cancer free. You know what she does now? She goes back to the same hospital as a volunteer and she encourages the people that are fighting cancer. She tells them: I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there. I’ve taken the chemo. And look, God did it for me. He can do it for you.
She’s not wasting her pain. Her test has become her testimony. We’ve all been through things that are uncomfortable. We didn’t like it. But God made away when we didn’t see a way. If it wasn’t for His healing, His favor, His goodness, His mercy, we wouldn’t be here.
God’s counting on us to let our light shine. What you’ve been through can help somebody else get through it. Be on the lookout for somebody you can encourage. Don’t waste your pain.
My friend coach Dale brown at LSU told about a young lady named Lolo Jones. You probably heard of her. She’s a star sprinter. She holds the world record in the hurdles. 2008, she was at the Olympic Games heavily favored to win the gold medal. Nobody had even come close to her time. She lined up on the track. The starter fired the gun. She took off running.
Everything was going great. She was in first place like expected. Eight hurdles down, two to go and she wins the gold; a dream comes true. But somehow on that ninth hurdle, her timing got off, she hit it stumbled, fell to the ground that allowed the other runners to pass her by. She didn’t win the gold, a huge disappointment. She trained her whole life for that 12 second race. Now it was over.
They interviewed her a little afterwards. And she said in effect, yes, it’s painful. Yes, I’m disappointed. But I know now I can help other people who have fallen.
When you’ve been through something, in one sense, you’ve been given a gift. You are uniquely qualified to help others struggling in that same situation. Don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself, go out and lift somebody else up.
Friends, everything happens to us for a reason. Nothing is a coincidence. Some things are to help us grow, mature, come up higher. Then there are times God will allow us to go through a difficult season. So later on, we can be instrumental in helping somebody else overcome.
Can God trust you with the pain? Can God trust you to be uncomfortable? Will you get negative, bitter? God, why’s this happening to me? I say this respectfully, it’s not all about you.
What if God allowed it so three years from now you can help somebody else move forward? Can God trust you?
When my father went to be with the Lord, you’ve lost loved ones, very painful. I didn’t like it. I was uncomfortable. But do you know how many people tell me, Joe, when you talk about your father and how much you loved him and how you stepped up to pastor the church, that helped me to overcome when my loved one went to be with the Lord.
With the comfort I’ve received, I can share that comfort with others. We all have something to give. We’ve all been through a hurt, a loss, a disappointment. Don’t see it as Oh man, this is so bad. You know, you may not have liked it. But there’s a purpose for that pain.
I saw a report on the news about this lady. She was a large woman and she’d always been perfectly healthy. But she started feeling a little nauseated, couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
Over the next few months, her back started hurting; her feet swelling, couldn’t sleep at night. She went to the doctor early on, they thought it was some kind of virus that would soon pass. But month after month, different symptoms popped up. She was uncomfortable, swollen, gaining weight, she didn’t like it.
One day she started feeling incredible pains in her stomach area. She tried to endure it thinking that it would pass but kept getting worse and worse. Finally, she couldn’t take it any longer.
In excruciating pain, she had her husband rushed her to the emergency room. The doctor examined her, said I know exactly what’s wrong. 90 minutes later, he handed her, her new baby boy. She was pregnant and didn’t know it.
All those symptoms she was feeling… the pain, discomfort, nausea. There was a purpose for it. A change was taking place. She was about to give birth.
Many times like her, we’re pregnant and we don’t know it. All we can feel is the pain. God, I’m uncomfortable. The pain is a sign you’re about to give birth. If you’ll stay in faith, eventually the pain will pass. You’ll give birth to new strength, new talent, new ministry, new charity, new friendships, a new level.
The pain is for a purpose, a change is taking place. When you’re in a difficult time, don’t focus on the pain, focus on the fact that a new level is coming.
The Scripture says Jesus endured the pain of the cross looking forward to the joy that was set before him. If you only focus on where you are on the pain, you’ll get negative. Have a new perspective, the right perspective. God, I don’t like this situation. But I know this pain is not here to stop me. It’s here to promote me. It’s a sign I’m about to give birth to something new.
That’s what my friends Craig and Samantha did. Craig at the time, was the head of our children’s ministry at Lakewood. They had two beautiful children. Samantha was expecting the third child. When little Connor was born, they soon realized something wasn’t quite right. He wasn’t talking, developing as fast as other children. Connor was diagnosed with autism.
And while they loved Connor, just as much of course, they were a little taken aback by it. It’s not what they were expecting. But Craig and Samantha understand this principle. They didn’t put a question mark where God put a period; they knew the reason they had Connor was because God could trust them. They didn’t waste their pain.
Craig told me how at that time, we didn’t have any classes for special needs children here at the church. Many parents couldn’t attend a main service like this because their children needed constant attention. He said, Joel, why don’t we start a special needs class for these children. We can call it the Champions Club.
In that time of pain, Craig recognized he was pregnant. He was about to give birth to something new. We started our Champions Club, the first few months 300 new families join the church. Other churches heard about it, Craig helped them launch their own special needs class. Today, there are over 30 champions clubs in seven different nations around the world.
Here’s what I’m saying. When it’s painful, don’t get discouraged. Get ready. You’re about to give birth. That discomfort you’re feeling. It’s not just a random pain. Those are birth pains. There’s a blessing in that pain. There’s a gift in that pain. There’s a ministry in the pain, there’s a new level in that pain. Don’t waste it. Do like Craig, be on the lookout. Look for opportunities, you can encourage somebody else.
Can God trust you with that pain? Will you get negative, bitter, or will you say God, I don’t understand it. But I know there’s a purpose for this pain.
Remember, God has his hand on the thermostat. If it was too much, he would have cut back the heat. Don’t just go through it, grow through it. If you’ll do this, I believe and declare your pain is about to be turned into your gain. You’re going to come out stronger, increased, promoted, new levels; out of that pain is going to birth you into the fullness of your destiny; in Jesus name.
If you receive it today, can you say amen?
We never like to close our broadcast without giving you an opportunity to make Jesus the Lord of your life. Would you pray with me? Just say, Lord Jesus, I repent of my sins. Come into my heart. I make you my Lord and Savior. Friends, if you prayed that simple prayer, we believe you got born again. Get in a good Bible based church. Keep God first place; he’s going to take you places that you’ve never dreamed.