A couple years ago, I made a poor job choice and ended up getting myself in a bad financial situation that affected every area of my life as well as some of my family members. We all make bad choices sometimes that lands us in unfortunate circumstances. Maybe you are in such a situation yourself right now. How do you get out of this? That is what I wanted to know, and then I read about the story of in Gideon, and it taught me the following lessons.
1. Your problems should bring you closer to God.
For seven years, the Israelites had been living in a really bad situation. The Midianite people had conquered them and were ruling over them harshly and repeatedly destroying all the crops and livestock of the Israelites. The Israelites were forced to live in caves and dens, hiding from the Midianites. Judges 6:6 says the Israelites were “greatly impoverished because of the Midianites.”
Why were the Israelites going through all this? Because they had “did evil in the sight of the Lord.” (Judges 6:1) They had forgotten their One true God, and they had become involved with worshiping false idols. (Judges 2:11-12)
God, like many parents, allows His children to suffer the consequences of their wrongdoing until they “come to their senses” and learn to appreciate what they have and to do better for themselves. Such is the case with the “prodigal son” in Luke 15:11-32. He had gotten himself into a really bad situation until he “came to himself,” and remembered that he had a father back home who loved him. God wanted the Israelites to remember Him, to “return to Me,” as He says in the books of Joel and Hosea. Sometimes, we forget God and we put all our focus and adoration on something or someone other than Him, and it only causes us trouble. God intends for our problems and troubles to motivate us to look to Him, to turn to Him for help.
2. God is with you even amid your problems.
In Judges 6:7, the Israelites “cried out to God.” They remembered the One true God who had once helped and delivered their ancestors from slavery in Egypt. Those idols they were worshiping were not helping them, so they realized they needed to look to the God of their fathers, the One true and living God.
Once they remembered and cried out to God, He was ready to send help. The whole while they were suffering in their problems, God was preparing to help them. God had not forsaken them. They had forsaken God, and He was simply waiting on them to return to Him and ask for His help. God has not forsaken you in your troubles. It could be that maybe He is simply waiting on you to remember Him and to return to Him.
“For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” (Hebrews 13:5)
3. God has a plan to help you.
In Judges 6:11-14, Gideon is threshing wheat in the winepress in order to hide it from the Midianites, and the Angle of God comes to tell Gideon that God has “sent him” to save Israel from the hand of the Midianites and to deliver them out of this messy predicament they were in. You see, all along, God had a plan for them. They may have disobeyed Him, angered Him, and even broke His heart, but God still loved them and was making a plan to get them out of the mess they created. God has a plan for you also.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
4. No matter how inadequate you feel, God is your strength.
Through the Angel, God called Gideon a “mighty man of valor,” but Gideon did not see himself that way. He said, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” Gideon saw himself as weak, insignificant, and unable to achieve the enormous task of delivering his people from their enemy. However, God knew better because God had been equipping and qualifying Gideon all along.
Notice in Judges 6:16, God answers Gideon and says, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”
God knew that it didn’t matter how weak and insignificant Gideon felt because it was God’s strength and power that would do the work, not Gideon. Neither does it matter how weak and inept you feel because it is God’s ability that will deliver you also out of your problems. When you realize that God is your strength, then you will know that you can “do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
5. God will give you assurance if you ask for it.
Gideon must have believed God, but yet he was nervous. This was a huge job that God was giving him, and Gideon wanted assurance. We all need assurance sometimes. God understands this because He created us, “He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:14) Jesus says “don’t be afraid, only believe” (Mark 5:36), but sometimes, we just can’t help it, we need assurance from God. We need to know that we are being led by God and not by the voices in our head or by our own ideas.
Three times in Judges, chapters 6-7, Gideon asks God for assurance. The first time, he asks the Angel to wait for him until he returned with an offering of goat meat and unleavened bread. When he offered the sacrifice, God through the Angel, consumed the offering with fire, showing Gideon His awesome power.
The second time, Gideon asked God to give him assurance by letting there be dew only the wool fleece and not anything else around it. Then, he asked God the next night to let the fleece be dry while there was dew everywhere else. Each time, God did as Gideon requested. (Judges 6:36-40)
If you need assurance, don’t be afraid to ask God for it. He may not do signs and wonders like He did in Bible days, but He will provide you with assurance, nevertheless, in one way or another. Today, we have the Bible that is packed with story after story of how God helped people overcome terrible situations. Reading these accounts can build your faith and assurance as well.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
6. God uses your challenges to build your courage and confidence.
Before God led Gideon out to face the enormous task of overthrowing the Midianites, God gave Gideon a smaller challenge: to tear down his father’s false idol and use the wood from it to build an altar to God. This was risky business because the community would be fighting mad about it and want to kill Gideon. However, God was building faith and courage in Gideon. Once Gideon accomplished this task and succeeded at it, he would then have confidence in carrying out the greater challenge of going up against the Midianites. (Judges 6:25-32)
The shepherd boy, David, said he had confidence in killing Goliath because God had previously helped him kill a bear and a lion. (I Samuel 17:37)
The challenges you are facing today may be there to build your faith and confidence in God and in your own abilities to accomplish some greater challenge tomorrow.
“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” (I John 3:21-22)
7. God can accomplish much out of your less.
When God had Gideon equipped and ready, God whittled the Israelite army down from 32,000 to just 300 men to go up against tens of thousands of Midianites. God said He did this so that Israel could not say that they won by their own might, but rather by the power of God Almighty. (Judges 7:1-8) What’s more, God wanted them to know the same thing He wants you to know: No matter how small, weak, outnumbered, or powerless you think you are, you can accomplish great things by God’s strength!
“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty, and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” (I Corinthians 1:27-29)
8. God can turn your trials into triumph.
When it was all said and done, the 300 Israelites never even had to engage in actual combat. In fact, they didn’t even have any weapons. Each of the men carried trumpets in one hand and a pitcher in the other that concealed a torch. By night, the small army divided into three companies and came to the edges of the Midianite camp from different approaches. When Gideon sounded his trumpet, all of the 300 men blew their trumpets, broke their pitchers and raised their torches, crying out, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” (Judges 7:26-21)
When the Midianite army saw and heard all this, they were suddenly terrified, thinking that they were surrounded by Israelites. In their fear and confusion, they began running everywhere and ended up killing each other. Thus, it was God who fought the battle for Israel that day and gave them victory. All Israel had to do was trust in God and obey Him. (Judges 7:22-25)
The truth is that no matter how big and complicated of a mess you have made for yourself, if you look to God, trust in Him, and try to do things His way, He will make a way to turn your trials into triumph. And like Gideon, God can make things turn out in ways that you would never have even imagined.
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…” (Ephesians 3:20)