Growing up with an older brother who has become my best friend is a tremendous gift. Christopher is eight years older than me, but he has remained my inspiration and role model from childhood into young adulthood. He has taught me the importance of selfless acts, prioritizing family and strength through life’s difficult seasons.
Christopher was also the first person who introduced me to Joel Osteen.
While Osteen was criticized for preaching prosperity theology and more recently, over disputes regarding his church’s availability to house Hurricane Harvey survivors, I believe that his sermons are often full of messages of encouragement, love and hope. Osteen’s sermons are accessible and do not revolve around shame, pity or "rules" of faith. Instead, Osteen uses The Bible as a source of reflection and reference on how we can all become more kind and victorious people. Do I believe that we should do good deeds merely for the prosperity of our own souls and to attract our own success? No. However, I do believe that if we try our best, keep our faith and give of ourselves with deep compassion, God will recognize our triumphs and efforts.
I recently was listening to a sermon by Osteen in which he discusses the notion "God’s got this" and I felt both comforted and ignited by the message. I was reminded of the necessity of hardship for growth and the beautiful potential that we all have to become better each and every day. I also meditated on the complexity of our most tasking periods as humans. I considered how fortunate I am and took a moment to appreciate these blessings. I considered the wide variety of adversity a person might face in their lifetime.
Finally, I considered the relationship between our own efforts to find hope in spite of despair and the ultimate force God has in our lives, which is beyond our control.
It is human nature to question our destiny and to feel anger when our plans are not unfolding as we may have imagined. We may dedicate energy and time into our dreams and find our labors fruitless. However, maybe we were trying to grow an apple when ultimately, we needed an orange. All of life’s surprises and unexpected redirections can save our lives, bring us to people that may become lifetime companions, and remind us of what we truly value.
If we put trust in whatever God or force of the universe that we believe in, our most trying challenges can set us up for the most rewarding chapters of our lives. If we are willing to accept the struggle, move through it and welcome new beginnings, we can find deeper happiness. We must not linger in pain, insecurity or self-pity, and we must be open to receiving the new path in our greater journey to peace.
Sometimes, we will face challenges that feel monumental, we might be confronted by a conflict that goes beyond our control. In these moments, rather than becoming consumed with worry and anxiety, we must give it to the universe, to God or simply just give it up to time. No matter what you believe in, you will only go deeper into a pit of negativity if you hold the heaviest of life’s burdens upon your own back. Go forth with grace and know that in your heart, “God’s got this.”