Seasons in life bring along struggles and strengths that need to be recognized and embraced, said Elevation Church pastor Steven Furtick during a sermon before Christmas Day.
"God schedules every season in your life but He doesn't post the schedule for you to see and that's what makes living so difficult," said Furtick. His message closed out a four-part series, "Times and Seasons," in which he emphasized the need to endure the current phase instead of trying to accelerate it and the importance of knowing that a season is experienced according to the way a person speaks and thinks about it.
A major part of his sermon focused on not envying another person's season that might appear to be better off, which Furtick says he has personally experienced, but rather acknowledging that everyone is fighting a struggle to get to the next phase of their life.
"Here's my problem, I always want to skip to the next [season]," said Furtick. "It always seems that the season I'm in is not the most comfortable and I've struggled with this all my life."
To illustrate his point, Furtick recounted the times he would visit other megachurches and compare them to his small-scale ministry when his church consisted of only seven families. He thought those pastors "didn't have problems" being at the level that they were at. At the time, Furtick said he didn't realize the struggle and seasons they had to endure to reach their point of success until his own church began to grow.
"The problem is when we look at other people's lives, we only see how high the tree goes, and we don't see how deep the roots are planted. You only see the fruit, not the fight they went through to have it," said Furtick. "You probably won't admit this, but there is a part of you that looks at other people, the season that they're in, the success that they enjoy, the place in life where they've arrived and you're thinking, 'if only I can get there.'"
He added, "God wants to free us from this continual straining and striving to live in someone else's season because even if you can live their season but it isn't your calling, you won't like it when you live there."
Furtick says the sooner someone realizes that phases come along with struggles, the sooner they can enjoy the season that they are in. He also noted that people who are in a "winning" season are "playing hurt," while emphasizing that those who reach a point of success and happiness have had to initially pay a price.
"When you see what other people have or have done that you haven't been able to do, there's always an asterisk," said Furtick. "It can make you feel worthless and like you don't measure up right now but what you don't know is the person who may be ahead of you in the race might have lost their wife, children and health trying to get there because there's always an asterisk … You have to take pride in the progress and purpose of your season because it has purpose."
Furtick also spoke about the concept of words and the power that they have when an individual is undergoing a tough moment. Although seasons pass according to God's timing, Furtick also said that oftentimes a person can accelerate their season by being obedient to Him and it can also be prolonged based on disobedience.
"Did you know that God has given you the power to label your life with the words that you speak about it? ... What separates people who walk by faith to sense God's purpose from those who go through life aimlessly is what they choose to call the season that they're in," said Furtick. "What you say about it, determines how you will experience that season … it will take on the characteristics of your description."
He also finalized by emphasizing that the present is the moment in which a season needs to be embraced instead of trying to rush through it and expecting the next phase to be the one in which change and transition will be achieved.
"When you defer hope to the future, you miss the fact that you're standing in it right now," said Furtick.