August 5, 2012

Strength in weakness

Gideon’s story always gives me courage to do that which seems impossible. He conquered his enemies with few resources because God sent him to do it and with God, all things are possible.

The story begins when the angel of the Lord approached this man as he threshed his wheat. He was a fearful man, hiding his work from his enemies lest they raid him and take his grain. He must have been astonished at the greeting from the angel of the Lord (usually considered a pre-incarnation appearance of Christ).
Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, 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.” And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” (Judges 6:11–16)
Being called a mighty man of valor as he hid from the Midianites was one thing, but when Gideon questioned that the Lord was with him, he must have been even more astonished to be told to “go in this might” he had and save his nation. He felt helpless, not mighty. His clan was weak and he was nothing in the eyes of himself, never mind his contemporaries. Nevertheless, God told him to go, and He promised to be with him.

This is a prime example of what God later told the apostle Paul. Paul struggled with some infirmity, a weakness that is withheld from our knowledge. Three times, he begged God to remove it, but God did not. Instead, He replied with a response similar to what He said to Gideon:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9–10)
People sometimes say that God works in mysterious ways. This is one of them. When we are helpless and weak, feeling unable and handicapped, God considers us in the place where we can be “mighty men of valor” and that the weakness we feel is “this might of” ours. 

How backwards to our thinking, yet how amazing is the way of our God. He does not use those who are relying on their own strength. If I want Him to use me, I need to be content to be nothing and have nothing, to feel weak and unable, for this is exactly the way God wants me.

Lord, I’ve said it many times before that feeling weak and helpless is not pleasant to me, but again remember that this is pleasing to You. Gideon was uncertain and unsure of his own strengths, but because he trusted Your promises and Your power, he was able to do great things. I may never fight an army 40 times larger than my resources, but because of this story, I can rejoice that feeling helpless means being in the right frame of mind. When I am weak, then You are most apt to show Your mighty power on my behalf.

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