Joel Osteen — The Valley of Blessings
I want to talk to you today about "The valley of blessing". We all go through difficult times in life and things that we don't understand. When we're in the valley, it's easy to get discouraged and think that it will never get better.
And too often we lose our talks about the valley of blessing. That seems like a contradiction. We think, "I can't be in the valley and be blessed. In the valley, I'm discouraged". "I'm dealing with this health issue". "These people at work won't treat me right". We see the valley as being negative. "As soon as I get out of this situation, I'll have a better attitude".
But I've learned God doesn't always remove the valley. He'll bless you in the valley. David said, "God prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies". He doesn't say, "God will remove all my enemies, eliminate everything that's bothering me, then prepare the table". No, in the midst of the trouble, in the midst of the adversity, he prepares the table. He doesn't have to deliver you from it. He can deliver you in it.
And one time in the scripture, Isaac was in a great famine. Nobody's crops could grow. The land was dry and hard. No water, but he went out and planted his fields. A 100-fold return. God didn't have to deliver him from the famine. He blessed him in the midst of the famine. And you may be in a valley right now, fighting a battle in your health, in your finances, in a legal situation. God knows how to turn that battlefield into your blessing field.
Don't complain about the valley. There's a blessing in that valley. It wasn't sent to harm you. It was sent to increase you, and you need to get ready. It's not going to stay a valley of defeat. It's about to turn to a valley of victory. What you think is a valley of disappointment, loss, heartache, God is going to turn to a valley of new beginnings, a valley of greater fulfillment. Or perhaps, you're in a valley of sickness. You could easily be discouraged and settle where you are.
Take heart. It's only temporary. It's going to turn to a valley of health, a valley of greater strength. God has you in the palm of his hand. He promised the number of your days he will fulfill. Don't be fooled by the valley. Like Isaac, it's about of breakthroughs, a valley of abundance, a valley of victory. It's a valley of blessing.
This is what happened in the scripture to the people of Judah. They were surrounded by three major armies who were quickly closing in on them. In the natural, they didn't have a chance. They were outnumbered ten to one. Jehoshaphat the king, he called everyone together to pray, and all these people stood before him: husbands, wives, little children. You can imagine how worried, how concerned. Their lives were on the line. Jehoshaphat looked up to the heavens. He said, "God, we don't know what to do, but our eyes are upon you".
And when you're in the valley, it's okay to be honest, "God, I don't see how I could ever get out. I don't see how I could get well, how my family could be restored". That's fine, but don't stop there. Do like he did, "God, I don't see a way, I know you still have a way. I know nothing is too difficult for you". After he finished praying, a young man spoke up and said, "This is what the Lord says, 'don't be discouraged by these mighty armies, for the battle is not yours. The battle is the Lord's.
You may be facing big enemies today. God is saying the same thing. Quit letting it upset you. Quit losing your peace. It's not your battle. It's the Lord's battle. God went on to instruct them that the next day they were to walk toward their enemies. He said, "You won't even need to fight. Juts take your positions, then stand still and watch the Lord's victory".
King Jehoshaphat did something interesting. He put the musicians out and the praisers. With every step, as they walked toward their enemies, they sang, "The Lord is good, and his mercy endures forever". Notice in the valley they weren't complaining. They weren't saying, "We'll never get out. This problem is too big. Why does this happen to us"? No, they were singing praises. They were talking about the greatness of their God. They were speaking faith into saying in the valley is extremely important.
If you go around saying, "I'm never going to get out, Joel. I've got all these problems. I always get these bad breaks," then you're going to get stuck. But when you start talking about how great your God is, how no weapon formed against you will prosper, how this problem didn't come to stay, it came to pass, "I can do all things through Christ. I am more than a conqueror," when you start talking like that, that's when God will show up and make things happen that you could never make happen.
And when these enemy armies heard all the singing, the shouting, the commotion, they got confused and began to fight among themselves. They ended up killing each other. When the people of Judah arrived, their enemies were already defeated. They didn't have to lift one finger in their defense. Just like God promised, stand still, and he will these enemy armies left so many supplies, so much equipment, valuables, clothing, that it took the people of Judah 3 days to collect it all. And on the fourth day, the scripture says, "They stood in the valley of blessing and thanked God for what he had done".
Isn't it interesting, in the place where they had their greatest battles, their most powerful enemies, God didn't call that the valley of opposition, the valley of struggle, the valley of heartache. He called it the valley of blessing. And when you face tough times, have this new perspective: that is not the valley of defeat, that's the valley of victory. That's not a valley to hold you back. It's a valley of promotion. It's not a valley of sickness. It's a valley of restoration.
Maybe like the people of Judah, what you're facing looks insurmountable. The medical report doesn't look good. You lost your biggest client. Your child won't do what's right. Those enemies may look big, but one touch of God's favor can turn it all around. Don't get discouraged. God has not brought you this far to leave you. Every voice may tell you, "That's a valley of defeat. You're never going to get out, never accomplish your dreams".
The good news is you don't have to get out of the valley. God can bless you in the valley. The enemy may have meant it for your harm, but he doesn't have the final say, God does. He says, "Stand still, and I'm going to show you my goodness. Stay in faith, and I'm going to turn that battlefield into your blessing field". What should have defeated you is going to increase you. You're going to come out better.
I love the fact it took them 3 days to gather up all the spoils. It would have been a great victory if God would have just defeated their enemies, spared their lives, but God never brings you out the same. He makes the enemy pay for bringing and sometimes we're just hoping to make it through the valley, "God, help me make it through this dry season at work". But God says, "No, I'm going to turn that valley into a valley of abundance".
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 many years, in 1996 he got his first job as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team. He was so excited. It was a dream come true. He told me how he didn't know anyone in that organization, 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.
And for 6 years, they were making more progress, winning more games, but one day, unexpectedly, he was fired. They let him go. He thought, "God, 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. He didn't get bitter. He understood this principle, that there is a blessing in every valley.
David said in Psalm 23, "The Lord is my shepherd. He leads me by the still waters. He leads me to the green pastures". We like that part of the passage, but a little later it says, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death". He was saying the same God that leads you to the green pastures and the still waters sometimes will lead you to the valley. You may not understand it, but if it wasn't going to work for your good, God would have never allowed it.
And when you face tough times, you have to remind yourself God would not be leading you to that valley if that's all there was: loss, defeat. Too bad, you're done. No, there's a purpose for that valley, not to hinder you, but to help you. Not to hold you back, but to push you forward. Not to weaken you, but to make you stronger.
Now the key is our attitude in the valley. If Jehoshaphat would have thought, "God, I've served you all these years. I've done my best, and now look, these enemies are going to wipe us out. That's just not right," if he would have been negative, bitter, discouraged, he would have never seen this valley of blessing. Most likely he would have been captured or even.
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. What I'm saying, don't fight your valleys. Stay encouraged. Every closed door, every bad break, everything that didn't work out, that valley was not a surprise to God. It's an opportunity for you to go to a higher level. God is directing your steps when you're on the mountaintops, and he's directing your steps even when you're in the valley.
And I'm not saying to accept defeat, settle for mediocrity, no, I'm saying when you go through a valley, and we all do, when a door closes, you get a bad medical report, don't get bitter. Don't live with a chip on your shoulder. Start expecting new doors to open, new opportunities, new friendships. God wouldn't have led you there if it wasn't going to work for your good. There's a blessing in that valley.
And of course, coach Dungy, he 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, but 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"? And 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, had many other winning seasons. God turned that valley into a valley of victory.
And 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. In the valleys, we always gain something. We may not like it, but we gain experience. We gain endurance. Our character is being developed. With every victory comes a new level of confidence, something that you'll a higher level. The valleys are getting us prepared. God knows what's in your future. He knows what you're going to need, when you're going to need it, and everything happens for a reason.
A challenge you face today may not make sense. You may not understand it, but 15 years from now, because it deposited something in you, you'll be prepared for what you face. God doesn't do anything randomly. He's specific. He's detailed. If the valley wasn't necessary, you wouldn't be there. If that setback, that disappointment, wasn't going to add anything to your life, God would have never allowed it. Now don't try to figure out why it happened. That will only confuse you. Just stay in faith. Trust God that he knows what's best, and you can be certain everything that comes your way in life, somehow, some way, God is eventually going to work that to your advantage.
When David was a teenager, he went out to face Goliath in the valley of Elah. It wasn't a coincidence that he was in the valley. We see this principle. Goliath, of course, was much bigger, stronger, had more experience. It looked impossible, like David didn't have a chance, but again, we see God turn a valley of defeat into a valley of blessing. David took his slingshot, and he knocked Goliath out. David didn't have a sword, so he went over and got Goliath's sword and finished him off.
David came out of that valley, not only with more experience, more confidence, more respect, but he came out with the sword of Goliath. Fast-forward years later, David was on the run from king Saul. Saul was jealous of David and trying to kill him, and David had to leave in such a hurry that he didn't have time to get his sword. He had no way to protect himself. He ran to the next city, went to the temple, saw some people that he knew. He told them he was on assignment for the king, asked if they had a sword he could borrow. They said, "David, all we have is the sword of Goliath, the Philistine whom you killed in the valley".
Notice, something that had happened in the valley was now instrumental to David reaching the next level of his destiny. Had he not gained the sword in the valley, he would have gotten stuck.
Friends, God has it all figured out. The valley you face today may not be for today. It may be for years down the road, but if you didn't learn what you needed to learn, gain what you needed to gain, you wouldn't be prepared for the new levels. Don't complain about the valley. There's a blessing in that valley. Later on, you're going to use the experience, the confidence. That sword, so to speak, will be waiting for you.
A few years after Victoria and I were married, we moved into a new house, and we sold our old house. And one day, there was a knock on the door. This policeman was standing there. My heart started beating so fast. He smiled and handed me some papers, and he said kinda lightly, "Somebody must really not like you". I thought, "What do you mean? What is this"? He said, "You've been named in a lawsuit".
Well, the people that bought our house were suing over the plumbing. They not only sued us, but they sued the builder, the architect, real estate agent, the plumber, everybody they could think of, and we knew we weren't at fault. We didn't build the house, and the plumbing had worked for us. But for those 6 months, while we were in a lawsuit, I was sick to my stomach. I was so worried.
At 26 years old, I thought that was the worst thing in a few weeks I was going to have to give my deposition in front of a lawyer and tell them what had happened. And I studied, I prepared, found all my documents. I was so nervous. I went and gave my deposition. When I was finished, I was so nauseated that I couldn't drive home. I had to have somebody come and pick me up. That seemed like the biggest waste so much unnecessary heartache, stress. I didn't see how anything productive could ever come out of that, but in every valley, you're gaining something. You may not realize it, but there's a purpose.
Thirteen years later, we'd just acquired this place, the former Compaq Center. A company filed a lawsuit to try to keep us from moving in. Now I wasn't dealing with a small plumbing problem. I was dealing with something that was critical to my destiny. And when I went to give my deposition in front of a battery I wasn't the least bit nervous. I was confident. I was prepared. I had experience. I had been there before. I knew exactly what to expect.
Like David, that sword was waiting for me. There was a purpose for that valley 13 years earlier. I didn't see it at the time. I let it stress me out, steal my joy. Now I realize it was a valley of blessing, and I've learned nothing happens by accident. There's no use getting upset and letting it sour your life. Stand still, and you will see the victory. One day you will look back and see what God was up to. You'll say, like I did, "Lord, thank you for that valley. If I hadn't have learned what I needed to learn, I wouldn't be prepared". Or like coach Dungy, "Lord, thank you for closing that door, or I would have never won the super bowl".
Friends, God knows what he's doing. Every valley has a blessing. There is something to push you forward, something that will be instrumental in you reaching the next level of your destiny. I don't complain about my valleys anymore. I understand this new perspective. This valley wouldn't be here unless it was preparing me for something greater, unless I was gaining something that I'm going to need later on.
I've heard the saying: "Trouble is inevitable, but misery is optional". We're all going to go through valleys, have things we don't understand. Trouble is inevitable, but it's up to us whether or not we get stressed out and let it sour the rest of our life. It's like this man I heard about. He was walking through the neighborhood, when he got bitten by a dog. He was so upset. He went to the doctor, and they ran some tests. The doctor said, "Sir, I'm sorry, but this dog has rabies. We're going to have to give you some shots".
Now he was really upset. The doctor walked out of the room to get some equipment and came back in. He noticed the man was making out a list. He thought he was writing out his will. The doctor kinda laughed and said, "Sir, it's not that bad. You're not going to die". The man said, "This is not my will. This is a list of all the people that I'm going to bite".
What am I saying? When you go through a valley, when you go through things you don't understand, don't go around biting people. Don't let it sour the rest of your life. Remind yourself that it's not going to work against you. It's going to work for you. One day, you're going to look back like I did and say, "What I thought was a valley of defeat, I realize now, it was a valley of blessing".
The Israelites had just defeated the army of Ben-Hadad on the top of this mountain. One of his assistants said to him, "The Israelite God is the God of the hills. That's why they were stronger than us. But if we fight them in the valleys, we will certainly defeat them". One version says, "In the low places".
The next spring, Ben-Hadad attacked the Israelites, but this time in the valley. God said to the Israelites, "They think I'm just the God of the mountains and not the God of the valleys. I will help you defeat them, to show them that I am the God of both".
When we're on the mountain, getting good breaks, seeing favor, we know God is with us. Life is good. But sometimes when we're in the valley, we think, "God, where are you? Why did this happen to me? Will I ever get out of this trouble? Will I ever get well"? Be encouraged. He's not just the God of the mountains. He's the God of the valleys.
David said, "He's a very present help in times of trouble". And when you're in the valley, God is not far away. He's right there with you, a very present help. Psalm 84 says, "When you go through the valley of weeping, it will become a place of refreshing, where pools of blessing collect after the rain".
On the way to your destiny, there'll be some valleys. You'll probably shed some tears, have things you don't understand, but God doesn't waste anything. This is saying God collects every tear that you've shed, and he'll use those same tears to refresh you. They will become pools of a blessing.
When David was 37 years old, he was about to step into the fullness of his destiny. He'd just received his third and final anointing. He found himself at the valley of Rephaim. Rephaim means "Giants". Some 20 years earlier, he had killed Goliath in that valley. But now he not only faced a Goliaths, he faced a valley of Goliaths.
The principle: the closer you are to your destiny, the greater the opposition. You may overcome one challenge. That's good, but don't be surprised if you face a bigger challenge. That means you're getting closer to your destiny. David and his men went out full of faith, full of courage, and defeated the Philistines. The scripture says that David renamed the valley. Instead of calling it the valley of giants, the valley of Rephaim, he renamed it Baal-Perazim. That means "The God of the breakthrough".
When you face situations that seem impossible, you need to do like David. Rename that valley. This is not the valley of debt, struggle, lack. I'm renaming it the valley of abundance, the valley of promotion, the valley of increase. This is not the valley of cancer, heart disease, kidney failure. I'm renaming it the valley of health, the valley of wholeness, or this may look like the valley of loneliness, loss, disappointment, but I'm renaming it the valley of breakthroughs, the valley of victory. It's the valley of blessing.
Friends, if you'll start renaming your valleys, what was meant to stop you will instead promote you. The reason you're facing the opposition is because, just like David, you're about to step into a new level of your destiny. Don't complain about the valley. Have this new perspective: there's a blessing in that valley. Get your passion back. Get your fire back. The forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. If you'll do this, I believe and declare God is going to turn every valley you face in life to a valley of victory, a valley of health, a valley of abundance, a valley of blessing.