I never realized how much I have in common with Gideon, one I always considered a giant of the faith. You can find Gideon’s bio in the CandidCharacters section of BibleBuildingBlocks. Gideon’s conquest of the Midianites was one for the history books, right? Who would have strategized to outfit 300 men with trumpets, clay pitchers, and torches for a night assault against a vastly superior invading force? My common ground with Gideon is not located in that aspect of his story, though. I resonate with Gideon as he hid in a winepress to thresh wheat while he pondered his circumstances and wondered what had happened to God.
We must understand that Satan has a goal for your life and mine, fellow believer. His goal is to render us useless for God’s plan. By any means necessary Satan wants to sidetrack us to the point we cease serving and stop sharing. He desires that our waking moments, especially those in the dark of night as we listen to the silence, be void of confidence in God and His promises. Instead of peace comes turmoil. Instead of faith comes doubt. In the place of confidence in God, Satan prefers that we grit our teeth and muddle through while juggling the misconception that we can only trust in ourselves for this life.
When we desire to live for God and serve Him, Satan’s forces unleash an incessant bombardment. We might find ourselves on the ropes, or worse, on the mat down for the count and ready to quit. How can a God of love allow such tactics? Should not God defend and protect His children? As our faith dwindles unholy emotions take root such as bitterness and anger.
In those moments we need the truth of God’s Word to bolster our confidence. The life of Job, another famous Old Testament character, teaches us that Satan must have God’s permission before he can attack a believer. Job shared hope in these words that remind us God always remains in control.
But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
Job 23:10 NASB
Our first thoughts on encountering adversity might be, “What did I do to displease God? How did I fail Him? Why is His punishment falling on my life?” In the early section of John 15 Jesus revealed the way believers glorify God.
My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
John 15:8 NASB
For fruit to appear on the vine the husbandman must tend and prune the vine.
Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
John 15:2 NASB
Pruning is the process of trimming away the unnecessary parts of the branch that are siphoning the life-force necessary for maximum fruit output. The goal is not a leafy branch but a fruity branch. F. B. Meyer describes the process in his work, Love to the Uttermost: Expositions of John XIII-XXI.
“Too many children of God, when passing through great physical and other suffering, account it punishment. Nay, it is not punitive, but purgative. This is the pruning-knife, cutting away the shoots of the self-life, that the whole energy of the soul may be directed to the manifesting of the life of the Lord Jesus. It may seem a grievous waste to see the floor of the hothouse or vineyard littered with fronds and shoots and leaves, but there need be no lament: the branches of the autumn will well repay each stroke of that keen edge with fuller, richer fruit.”
When we meet Gideon in Judges 6 his heart held no understanding of God’s higher purposes. Gideon only knew the suffering that made his daily life unbearable. The accounts of God’s miraculous works on Israel’s behalf in a bygone era seemed mythical at best. To his credit, though, Gideon fought to survive no matter the circumstances.
Had God forgotten Gideon? No, God knew where to find Gideon. God knew the plan He had for Gideon’s life. God knew the training opportunities Gideon needed. And God knew the potential Gideon possessed to benefit not only himself and his family but the greater nation.
Gideon on the other hand voiced his crisis of faith through several revealing comments (Judges 6:13).
- “If the Lord is with us…”
- “Why is all this happening?”
- “Where are all His miracles?”
- “God has abandoned us.”
- “God has given us to the Midianites.”
Gideon had stopped believing that God held the controls. He was convinced God had turned his back on Israel. God’s purposes for Gideon’s life required a heaping helping of faith (Judges 6-7) but at that moment Gideon’s faith had fizzled.
That’s the common ground I found with this Old Testament hero. Events, circumstances, and certainly people seemed to strike daily with punch after punch while God remained silent, provided no direction, and appeared to have abandoned me. That thought is unsettling to consider and terrifying to have rattling internally each day. My dear wife counseled me that the idea of God’s abandonment was contrary to His Word and therefore a lie from Satan, but the darkness surrounding me made breathing a chore. Believing seemed impossible.
May I share some nuggets I mined from Gideon’s story?
- God knows, not assumes.
- God knows that I am strong enough to handle the trial He has allowed.
- God knows how the trial will prune my life and why the suffering is necessary.
- God knows the plan He has for me and sees my potential.
God provides His presence and His assistance. Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit and Jesus intercede for me. In those moments where I come to God and have no idea how to voice my bewilderment I can rest in the truth He has given. Someone is praying for me.
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27 NASB
Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Romans 8:33-34 NASB
Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. Hebrews 2:17-18 NASB
God urges me to refocus my vision. If I look at life from only the present physical perspective I will miss out. The trials will drive me away from rather than toward God.
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3 NASB
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NLT
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13 NASB
Is there a Midianite army in my life waiting to be conquered? What plan does God have for me? What potential did He include in my design when He formed me? I will never find out if I stay in the winepress feeling sorry for myself.