A couple I know told me their son was on the wrong path, running with the wrong crowd. He had addictions he needed to overcome. They were doing everything they could to help him. They found him a new place to live away from his drug-using friends. They found a support group for him. They were praying more than ever. But they said, "Joel, it seems like the more we pray, the more we try, the more we believe, the worse he gets."
They were so concerned. But I told them what I'm telling you. The reason the pressure has been turned up is because you're close to your victory. The enemy would not be fighting so hard if he didn't know he was about to lose his grip on this child. If you will keep believing, keep hoping, keep doing the right thing, and if you stay strong for that final push, you will see the situation turn around. You'll see that promise come to pass.
It's just like a woman having a baby. The first month or two is not that difficult. No big deal. The mother-to-be looks and feels much the same. But then in a few months she gains the baby's weight. She carries around the extra pounds. Her feet may swell up. Her back may hurt. She may have some nausea, some morning sickness. By the eighth or the ninth month, husbands, you know you'd better give that woman some space. Don't mess with Momma. Don't backtalk her. Just do what she says and nobody will get hurt. She gets more and more uncomfortable. But then when her water breaks and she goes into labor, all those other challenges seem insignificant compared to the difficulty of giving birth.
When Victoria was in labor with our first child, our son Jonathan, she was holding on to my arm so tight. When she had a contraction, she squeezed my arm. Victoria would scream, and then I would scream.
I wanted to mention to her that she was hurting me, but I feared for my life!
Truth be told, if a woman in labor had a choice, she'd probably say, "I don't want to do this anymore. It's too difficult. I can't stand it."
But she doesn't have a choice. The doctor, the nurse, the husband keep saying, "Push! Push! Push!" Before long, she pushes that baby out. And in a few minutes she forgets all about the pain because she's holding the promise. She's holding that little child.
It's the same principle in dealing with daily life. The greatest difficulty always comes right before the birth of a dream. Before you see a new level of God's favor, don't be surprised if things come against you to try to discourage you. People may try to talk you out of your dreams, to convince you to just settle where you are.
You may not realize that you are "in labor" right now. You are about to give birth to what God has put in your heart. That's why it's such a struggle. You're in that final push. Maybe at work you're doing the right thing, going the extra mile, but you were passed over for a promotion. It wasn't fair. What was that disappointment? A labor pain. So just push through it.
Maybe you wanted to create that new business, but your partner backed out. The financing didn't come through. What was that disappointment? Another labor pain. If you'll keep pushing, keep believing, keep hoping, before long—like that woman in labor— you will push that promise out.
You may feel as though you've never had such a struggle in your finances, your health, or your relationships. You could say, "Joel, this is the greatest attack that I've ever faced."