by Joy Hutzler
Judges chapter 6 tells us an amazing story about a “nobody” named Gideon. Gideon was the youngest son of a poor man in Israel. In those days, the Midianite army would sweep through Israel each harvest season and utterly destroy all the crops and livestock of the Israelites. God’s people had resorted to hiding in caves in the mountains during this time of the year for fear of the Midianites. After some time, the people of the Lord, who had begun worshipping other gods, grew tired of the oppression of the Midianites and cried out to God for help. One day, Gideon was hiding in a winepress, beating out some wheat to hide it from the Midianites, and an angel appeared to him with a message from the Lord. As a way of greeting, the angel said, “The Lord is with you, man of courage.” Here was Gideon hiding from the Midianites, and the Lord called him a man of courage. I imagine Gideon looked around to see who the angel must have been referring to. The angel went on to give Gideon instructions about what was to come and how the Lord was going to use him to deliver the Israelites from the Midianite army. But first, God wanted Gideon to tear down the idol of the false god Baal, which was standing in the way of victory for the Israelites. Every time he was given instructions, Gideon asked for confirmation that it was truly a message from the Lord. Gideon was afraid. He was afraid of the Midianites. He was afraid of the men of his village. He doesn’t sound much like a “man of courage.” But each time after he confirmed the Lord’s message, Gideon was obedient and did what the Lord had told him to do.
My husband and I are raising a son amidst his three sisters. Trying to teach him to be strong and fearless is a task that I don’t always feel equipped for. I often tell him when he is afraid to have courage. I remind him that, “It isn’t courage if you aren’t afraid.”
God asked Gideon to trust him and to obey some outlandish and seemingly impossible commands. He was afraid. I would have been, too! Gideon was given an army of 300 men to stand up against the great Midianite (and Amalekite) armies. There were more of them than could be counted. But God didn’t really need Gideon’s help. He wanted his trust and obedience. God didn’t let him down.
Sometimes in our own lives God asks us to trust him and obey him in situations that seem far above our capabilities. We cannot even fathom at times how God could possibly work a plan to handle an overwhelming situation. We are confused why he even wants to involve us in his plan in the first place. We are afraid of the circumstances or cower at all of the “what ifs.”
God called Gideon a man of courage before he even gave him the first instruction, because God already knew who Gideon was. God already knew Gideon was afraid, but he wanted to give him a title that would help Gideon understand that God saw something about him that he couldn’t see for himself.
Maybe you don’t feel very courageous. Maybe you feel very unworthy or ill-equipped to handle a task the Lord has given you. But this is where God loves to work! God loves to work in all of our inadequacies because that is where HE gets the glory. That is where HE gets to shine and show his power. If you have been given instructions from the Lord, go ahead and get confirmation, then in all of your fears, inadequacies, and uncertainties, OBEY! The Lord is with you, Woman of Courage.