We often are sitting, waiting for God to move or for Jesus to come save us from some predicament, to perform some great miracle while we sit here and wait. But God is always moving, always performing miracles. He is always saving us. Sometimes these come through miracles, but more often than not he uses circumstances and common people in his work.
Look at the ordinary people that God used to bring us Jesus. Mary, just a common young teenager of no import, used to carry the baby Jesus into this world. Joseph, way down the line of David, but just a common carpenter who cared for Mary and stuck by her side and believed when so many would have abandoned her. The shepherds, who came to worship at the feet of the baby Jesus to show us that Jesus came for all, not just the powerful. The wise-men, to show us how Jesus came for the gentiles and the rich and powerful as well. h
Where are you God?
Look back throughout the Bible and you’ll see that God used the common and ordinary to perform the extraordinary. One of my favorites comes in the book of Judges 6, the story of Gideon. Back story is the Israelis once again had done evil in the eyes of God and for 7 years, they had been given over to their enemies. In verse 11 we find Gideon, who was threshing wheat in a wine-press to keep it from the Midians. This was less than ideal and a very inefficient way to thresh wheat, but because of his fear of the enemy, Gideon hid from sight.
But then the Angel of the Lord came to him and says these words.
The Lord is with you, mighty warriorJudges 6:12
I can imagine him looking around, thinking who is this angel talking to…it couldn’t be me. But when he finds no one else, he challenges the angel;
“Pardon me, my Lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all the wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hands of Midian.”Judges 6:13
Wow, he definitely does not sound sure of what the angel said. In fact he sounds a angry, bitter and full of doubt. “Where were you God when we really needed you? We trusted you to be there with us…but no, you just let them take over.”
So on the first point God is making in verse 12, “The Lord is with you,” Gideon is full of doubt. The Lord then says to Gideon;
The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”Judge 6:14
So despite Gideon’s questioning, God says to him, “Am I not sending you?” God came to Gideon to send him. What God puts in motion will be completed. I think of this post I wrote two years ago during a Thanksgiving series.
God is saying to Gideon, “Yes all these things have happened to you. You’re asking me why didn’t I fix this or what am I going to do to free Israel from the Midians. Well I am, aren’t I sending you?”
What are you waiting on God to fix? What situation is it that you feel God may have abandoned you in? Could be that God has equipped you to take action, God could be wanting to use you, not from your own strength but from that which is given to you from above.
God has made you a strong warrior
The angel of the Lord called Gideon a mighty warrior. That probably confused him as well. He was cowardly and lacking of faith. He goes on to ask God;
“Pardon me, my Lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”Judges 6:15
Gideon still had no faith that he could do what the Lord was asking. He had not faith, because he looked at his situation from his human eyes. He was from a lowly family in the weakest of the Jewish tribes and he was low in his family. How is God going to use him?
The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”Judges 6:16
God answered him very matter-of-factually, “You’ll save Israel because I will be with you.” That’s all we need to do anything God asks of us. When God is with us and he promises that he always is, we can accomplish anything that God sends us to do.
Gideon is still not convinced and asks the angel to give him a sign that it is really God speaking to him. After doing so, Gideon is finally convinced that he has heard from the Lord himself. The Lord eventually asks Gideon to tear down an alter to Baal that was near his father’s house. Gideon obeyed, though you can still see that courage was not a virtue of his as he did it under cover of darkness.
So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.Judges 6:27
Many times what God asks us to do seems difficult if not impossible and usually takes a lot of courage. Many times if I feel led to do something, the level of discomfort for me is one of the signs I use that it is from God. Each time we show a willingness to obey, despite our fears, we grow in our faith.
When the Midianites gather to attack, Gideon gathered some 32,000 men of Israel to battle. But despite that great number, he still doubted that he was the right man to lead. Again his faith faltered and again he demanded a further sign that God would be with him as seen in verses 36-40.
Testing the Lord is not something that is recommended and Gideon could have been punished, but because of his lack of faith and courage, it allowed God to fully display his power through the weakness of Gideon.
After a series of back and forth with God, the number of men heading into battle against Midian was only 300. But despite being outnumbered greatly, Gideon led the men to a great victory by finally trusting in God and being led by Him.
When we face times of trouble, God will use our weakness to display his power. Whether it’s sickness or financial hardships or relationships or whatever we face, God will shine through our weakness. God will use us and our weakness to do what he wants done. We may be fearful or lacking in trust, but God is always faithful and will give us the courage and the strength when we need it.
What an exciting thing to know that He works in that way. We never face our “Midians” by ourselves. We may think we need an army behind us, but all we need is God.