I’ve been digging into the life of Gideon, an Old Testament character who led Israel to victory over the Midianites then went on to govern the nation for forty years. Gideon’s efforts earned him mention in Faith’s Hall of Fame found in Hebrews 11 (v. 32). But Gideon’s life never began as a giant of faith. In fact our first observation shows a man hiding in a winepress to thresh his meager wheat crop. As he tossed the wheat, Gideon stood neck-deep in a pity party.
Get Gideon’s complete story from Judges 6-7 in your favorite translation of the Bible. For a short bio consult Gideon in the BibleBuildingBlocks collection of CandidCharacters. And for more on the causes of Gideon’s pity party check out Gideon’s Woes, posted in TransformingTidbits under T for Trouble.
Can anything beat a good pity party? We’ve all been there a time or two, and maybe a short-term party is OK, but when pity partying becomes our way of life we have a problem. And the impact is compounded when I claim faith in an almighty God yet live defeated, dejected, depressed, and disillusioned. In that state God may not seem very powerful to me at all.
Gideon expressed his personal issues through several revealing comments (Judges 6:13).
- “Why is all this happening?”
- “Where are all His miracles?”
- “God has abandoned us.”
- “God has given us to the Midianites.”
His expectations of how God should work did not come to pass. The brutal truth was that the nation of Israel had forsaken God to chase idols and much of the discomfort in Gideon’s existence was related to God’s discipline on the nation. But God had a plan, and Gideon figured heavily in that plan. God had not forgotten Gideon.
God has not forgotten us, either, though recently I had convinced myself the opposite was true. Believers, our troubles and unceasing struggles can twist our theology to the point where nothing makes sense. I had begun to ask myself, “What did I do to displease God? How did I fail Him? Why is His punishment falling on my life? Have I become God’s enemy?” A believer whose faith flaps in the winds of doubt is a miserable creature indeed.
Gideon’s story gave me hope, and through that ancient account God began to shift my focus off the adversity and back to Him. That’s where my focus must be or the questions detailed in the previous paragraph will overwhelm my thoughts. I can’t answer them anyway. I don’t understand what God is doing any more than Gideon did in his day. And that is by design because if I had God all figure out I would not need Him anymore. Isaiah expressed this truth in words we should commit to memory.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9 NASB
Do I believe God knows more than I do? Am I confident that He has a plan for my life, that He has not taken a vacation and left me to fend for myself? Can I rest in the certainty that the adversity He allows into my life will serve His purposes?
That’s the decision point where my faith either becomes real or it withers away.
Take a moment to read this partial list of the stark realities of life.
- People will disappoint us.
- Circumstances are likely to be different than we expect.
- Even when we expect the unexpected the unexpected can be worse than we expected.
- Bad stuff happens to good people.
- Good stuff happens to bad people.
- Not everything that happens is about me.
- The opportunity, credit, praise, or promotion I think I deserve may never materialize.
- The grudge, bitterness, or unforgiving spirit I harbor toward Person X does not affect Person X at all. He has likely forgotten me and moved on.
Ouch! There go most of the reasons for my next pity party.
Gideon turned from the pity, learned to take baby steps of faith, and God did great things through him. God knew all along the potential hidden away inside that Israeli warrior. God is the one who designed the potential into Gideon, and into you and me, in the first place.
Follow God by faith? Trust that He knows how the hard times will shape me?
Sounds like a plan.
I’m tired of partying anyway.