If you're a football fan, you probably know who Tony Dungy is, one of the great coaches of our day. After playing in the league for many years, he got his first job in 1996 as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team. He was so excited; it was a dream come true. He told me that he didn't know anyone in the organization. He didn't have any special inside contacts, but out of several qualified candidates, they chose him. He knew it was the hand of God opening that door. For six years, everything went great. The team was making progress, winning more games. But one day, unexpectedly, he was fired. He thought, "God, I know You gave me this job. I know this was Your plan. I don't understand why this has happened to me." He was in the valley. It didn't make sense. But he didn't start complaining, and he didn't get bitter. He understood the principle that there is a blessing in every valley.
Proverbs says, "The steps of a good person are ordered by the Lord." When you encounter a valley, sometimes it's not because you've done anything wrong, it's because you're doing something right. God is ready to promote you, but the way He's going to do it is by taking you through the valley of blessing. We think, "God, if You're going to bless me, don't take me down, take me up!" "If You want to promote me, don't let me lose my job." But God's ways are not our ways, they are much bigger. His plan is better than our plan.
Of course, coach Dungy was disappointed that he lost his job, but he didn't sit around talking about how bad life had treated him. He started thanking God that new doors were going to open. He knew the same God that opened the door in Tampa Bay had now closed that door. The same God that had directed his steps and gave him favor to get that job had now directed his steps away from what he thought was his dream job. He was in the valley. Not long after that, he received a phone call from the Indianapolis Colts football organization. They said, "We're looking for a new head coach. Would you be interested?" They had a good quarterback named Peyton Manning. He said, "I think so!" He took that job and coach Dungy went on to have incredible success coaching the Colts. They won the Super Bowl and had many other winning seasons. God turned that valley into a valley of victory. Here's the thing: had God never closed that door, he may not have ever won the Super Bowl. Don't fight your valleys. They're leading you to your greatest victories!
"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4, NIV)