In tough times, Pastor Joel Osteen said his message is simple: God is good.
"I want to give every person the hope to believe."
Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, is the most-watched TV minister in America and a two-time best-selling author. Although times may seem difficult, this could be the best time of your life, he writes in "It's Your Time: Activate Your Faith, Achieve Your Dreams, and Increase in God's Favor."
Osteen acknowledged that challenges and struggles, such as those brought on by the economic recession, can dampen people's faith. But, he said, happiness isn't the result of prosperity, and people shouldn't cease living and striving because of suffering and failure.
Addressing such doubts in his book, Osteen tells readers how to avoid becoming a prisoner of fear, doubt and worry.
"If you listen to those negative thoughts, you will likely become discouraged and give up on your dreams," he writes.
"Many times, we miss out on God's best because we give up too soon. We don't realize how close we are to victory."
On "GMA," he said, "There's so much negative news, people just kind of put their lives on hold, their dreams on hold. God is sovereign, sometimes God takes us through detours. … My thing is just God arms you with strength for every battle."
Using the example of a woman in labor, Osteen writes that people would be able to achieve much more if they didn't have the option of turning back.
"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,'" he writes. "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."
The same principle applies in our daily lives, he writes, because "the greatest difficulty always comes right before the birth of a dream."
"Another few days of believing, another few weeks of doing the right thing, or another few months of staying in faith and you will see that promise come to pass," he writes.
Losing a job, savings or a home or health, or [having a] relationship problem are all challenges that can be overcome, said Osteen.
Each day, he said, make a commitment to get up and be grateful.
"You'll enjoy your life more. … Every day is a gift that God's given us," he said. "God never promised that every day would be perfect."
Osteen's said his focus on self-esteem and individual achievement doesn't contradict a Christian emphasis on the collective good and helping others.
"You have to first love yourself before you can properly love your neighbor," he said. "You're a person of purpose and destiny."
Many people overcomplicate faith, he said, adding that Jesus told simple stories.
"Faith is easy, I think people complicate it," he said. "My message is simple: that God is good. … You can be who he created you to be."
The Bible, he said, is full of examples of persevering through difficult times.
"The scripture said in life you will have difficulties," he said.
The key is to tell yourself this "is a difficult season, but I'm not going to be bitter today. … This is another day that God has given me."