Did you know that you can be terrified and courageous simultaneously? We are courageous when we can hardly breathe, our knees are shaking, our heart is in our throats, and we feel small and cowardly, but we still do what we know is right. God knows our terror and our fears and is there for us when we call on him. * He may not answer like we think he should, and it always takes longer than we want. Sometimes God walks us through our fear and helps us face it, as he did with Gideon. In the book of Judges, after his people cry out in fear, God reminds them of the other times he came through for them. He encouraged them but didn’t deliver instantaneously.
How God Finds us in Our Fear
In Judges 6:11-12, we find Gideon trying to process his wheat in a winepress. It was a strange place to do that, but he was hiding from the enemy. At first glance, Gideon might seem cowardly. We need to give the man some credit; he’s still getting out there and getting work done even though the enemy lurks nearby. In modern times, the causes of our fears are less obvious. I’ve been in my version of the winepress, like Gideon, getting work done but nonetheless hiding from that nagging fear. God approaches Gideon with the affirmation. There was courage in the act of using the winepress. Gideon wasn’t trying to be courageous; he was doing what needed to get done, even in a fearful way and less productive. God sees our smallest acts of courage and can guide us through our fear.
11 Now the [a]Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree at Ophrah, … Gideon was beating wheat in the wine press [instead of the threshing floor] to [hide it and] save it from the Midianites. 12 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O brave man.”Judges 6:11-12
Why Weren’t You There for Us?
In verses 7-10 of Judges 6, God reminds Israel of all of the answered prayers of the past to encourage their faith. When fear strikes, we need to apply that same lesson. To become courageous, we must remind ourselves of all of God’s past victories on our behalf. The way to become overcome fear is to think about times we felt abandoned, disappointed, and wronged. Gideon does this to God in verse 13. Meditating on our past failures and present fears disheartens us and erodes our courage. Gideon even told God of his family’s lack of power and position and why he should fail and be afraid. Because of this mindset, he had to ask God for signs to keep up his faith. God graciously walks him through, giving him what he needs, but he shows us we can do more than Gideon.
13 And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”Judges 6:13
Trust Proven Goodness
Like he did with Gideon, God reminds us not only of how he’s come through before and of what he’s called us to do and also of who we are in him. Mature bravery grows when we begin to do this for ourselves. We must remember our former blessings and God’s character and love for us. We will rarely know why life and suffering happen. This is where faith comes in. Trusting his goodness and love for us is having to be okay with not knowing or understanding. If we had a God we could completely understand, he wouldn’t be God to us. Will we trust in times of his proven goodness, or the troubles of the past? I personally hate it when someone I love thinks the worst of me after I’ve proven my love, over and again. I believe that God feels similar when we do that to him.
14 And the Lord[a] turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?”Judges 6:14
He’ll Do it Again
In Judges 6:14, God was gracious and patient with a terrified Gideon. He gave him a vision of himself as a warrior, and regardless of Gideon’s arguments, God pushed him to be his best. God even gave him confirmation and encouragement every step of the way until his faith was strong. He will do this for us too. Are you facing a fear like Gideon? Think of what God has done before and ask him to come through again. Strain to reach your faith, and trust God to care for the rest.
God, I thank you that you, the person reading this, was brought here by you, to let them know you are there. You see their fear, you appreciate the gravity of their circumstances, and you will walk with them towards a miracle and give them what they need to make it through. I pray that we will begin to see ourselves through your eyes, knowing that we can go beyond our limitations through you. I bind that spirit of fear, and I ask you to give this reader encouragement and courage as we stretch our faith and see your goodness. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.