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Joel Osteen tells Harvey survivors not to have ‘victim mentality’

Pastor Joel Osteen, who has been under fire for his Houston megachurch’s slow response to helping survivors of Hurricane Harvey, vowed on Sunday that God would “pay back” victims for what they lost. 

“We’re not going to understand everything that happens, but having a ‘poor old me’ mentality or ‘look what I lost’ or ‘why did this happen,’ you know that’s just going to pull you down,” he said in his first sermon at his Lakewood Church since the storm.

Instead, he urged his followers to “turn it over” to God.

“God won’t allow it unless he has a purpose for it,” he said. “We may not see it at the time, but that’s what faith is all about.”

Osteen said having faith will “allow” God to “turn situations around.”  

“He’s got you in the palm of his hand,” he said. “He’s working in your behalf right now, behind the scenes, he’s lining up things in your favor.”

Then, he cited a passage from the Bible that describes how God will “restore” what “the enemy” is trying to take.

“So let’s don’t have a victim mentality, let’s have a restoration mentality,” he said. “Lord, we thank you, that you’re going to pay back what belongs to us.”

Osteen also had some sharp words for his critics, who slammed him and his church for its delayed response to the storm.

At one point last week, Osteen said the church didn’t open to storm victims because the city hadn’t asked.

Osteen said on Sunday that rising waters approached the top of the church’s flood barriers after the storm, which prevented it from responding sooner.

“It’s easy for somebody from a distance to make judgments without having all the information,” he said. “Some people that don’t have the facts and people who don’t want to have the facts will continue to try to stir things up.”

See Osteen’s full sermon below. He first speaks at the 32:15 mark, then again at 1:28:43.