“The Angel of the Lord came, and He sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the wine vat in order to hide it from the Midianites.
Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Gideon said to Him, “Please Sir, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened? And where are all His wonders that our fathers told us about? They said, ‘Hasn’t the Lord brought us out of Egypt? ’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.”
The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not sending you? ”
He said to Him, “Please, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Look, my family is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.”
“But I will be with you,” the Lord said to him. “You will strike Midian down as if it were one man.””
Judges 6:11-16 (HCSB)
If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened? What a question. And a question that is on so many of our lips right now. If not, at least it’s in our minds.
Our world is in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic and we have no idea when it will come to an end.
Our lives, which perhaps for some of us previously had some semblance of order, have been thrown into disarray and filled with so much uncertainty.
Our plans have been interrupted and our choices limited. We’re like sitting ducks and we don’t know when we can move forward into the unknown. For those of us who believe in God, we ask ourselves, “where is God in the middle of all this? Why is He not intervening?”
Gideon asked that same question. The Lord had previously delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, led them through the wilderness and gave them the land He had promised them. He delivered their enemies into their hands and continually provided for them. Yet, the people turned away from the Lord and worshipped worthless idols, living in sin. As a result, they became oppressed by an enemy, the Midianites. It’s in the midst of all this that the Lord’s angel meets with Gideon, who is pretty much a nobody among the Israelites.
Now, I would usually read the story of Gideon as the triumph of an underdog. It’s one that I can recall to remind myself that God calls the unqualified, uses those we least expect and sees us for who we are becoming rather than just who we are today. It’s an encouraging few chapters in the book of Judges to turn to when we feel inadequate, showing us that it is God who qualifies us.
This time was different. I saw this story through the eyes of someone living during a global pandemic. That first question that Gideon asks the angel, it never stood out to me before. As I asked God that same question while studying this scripture, He revealed some simple yet profound promises to cling on to in the uncertainty of this season we all find ourselves in.
1. God loves us
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” | 1 John 4:8-9
Many ask what kind of loving God would allow bad things to happen? It’s certainly a question I have asked in my journey with God and one that I don’t have the answer to. I may never know why or fully understand. If I did understand all of God’s ways, I could no longer call it faith, I could no longer call Him sovereign. I acknowledge that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8-9) and that God is good (Psalm 34:8).
God, in His love for humanity, gives us the freedom of choice to love Him in return or to live our own lives. He doesn’t force His hand on us. Instead, He allows us to make decisions (good or bad) and those decisions have consequences. A lot of what we see around us today are a result of people’s actions. But, take heart! Despite our shortcomings and mistakes, God still loves us! It is because of this love that He approaches Gideon to bring victory to the Israelites, even after their rebellion. It is because of this love that I know that He has a greater plan.
2. God is with us
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” | Isaiah 41:10
God promises that His presence will go with us at all times. From the moment we wake and through to our slumber, He is with us. It’s a foundational truth for Christians, so why do we seem to forget? Particularly in our current climate, when we’re constantly faced with news reports, social media updates and talk of the crisis, it’s easy to get so distracted that we lose sight of God’s presence through it all. We catch the fear and worry that others around us are exhibiting rather than pursuing God’s presence.
In Judges 6, we see that Gideon felt abandoned by God and was fearful to face his enemies. Twice within their initial interaction, God reminds Gideon that He is with him (Judges 6:12,16). It’s through this encounter with the Lord that Gideon discovers God’s peace (Judges 6:24). It’s in His presence that our fear will turn into sound and clear thinking (2 Timothy 1:7), that our anxiety will transform into peace (Philippians 4:6-7). It’s God’s promise to His children, no matter what is happening around us.
3. God fights for us
“Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” | Deuteronomy 3:22
In these challenging times, we don’t have all the answers. But God does. We may not have the strength. But God does. We may not know the right strategy to use. But God does. You see where I’m going with this? When we’re faced with the unknown, we as humans have the tendency to try and find more ways to feel like we’re in control. In the effort to establish control, we only wear ourselves out, creating more worry that we’re not doing enough. As we attempt to work it out in our own strength, God is asking us to let go and let Him work on our behalf. When He does, it will most likely be in the way that we least expect.
I believe there are ways God is already moving in the current state of our world, we just can’t see it yet. Like Gideon, we ask for signs of God’s intervention. If we’re too busy trying to make things happen, we miss the evidence of God’s hand at work.
I don’t know what the future holds or what our “new normal” will look like. What I do know, is that in the midst of uncertainty, I can run into the presence of a certain God. A God who never changes. Even when my circumstances may change, He remains the same.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
How are you feeling in this current season? Have you found yourself asking God the big questions? Please share your comments below!
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