Excuses. When confronted with a situation that needs changing we all find reasons NOT to become involved. Gideon was no different. In Judges 6, we read how God had turned the Israelites over to the control of the Midianites because they had failed (once again) to obey him and do good. The Midianites were running rampant over Israel. They were destroying crops and stealing their livestock. The Israelites had made homes in caves in the mountains because of the devastation of the Midianites. They were making life a living hell for the Israelites.
Gideon is at home threshing his wheat in his father’s winepress in order to hide it from the Midianites. He needed to feed his family and had to resort to deception in order to get the wheat necessary for bread. He wasn’t happy about the situation in Israel at all. A stranger comes and sits down under the shade of an oak tree, near the winepress, and watches Gideon at work. He says, “God is with you valiant warrior.”
It is interesting to note, Gideon completely ignores “valiant warrior” and focuses instead on “God is with you.” As he pauses a moment, wiping sweat from his forehead, he looks at the stranger and says, “If God is with us why are all these bad things happening to us? And, where are the miracles we’ve heard about from our fathers? Did God really perform all those amazing things when he took the Israelites out of Egypt?” Gideon is tired and frustrated and angry about the situation his country is in.
The stranger looks at him and says, to paraphrase, “Why don’t you do something?”
Gideon is stunned by the directness of the stranger. The Midianite army is huge and he is the youngest son of the smallest tribe in Israel. “What can I do?” he replies after offering his excuses.
Then the stranger, who reveals himself as the Lord tells him, “If I am with you, you can defeat the whole Midianite army as one man.”
How many times do we complain and gripe about the situations we see around us yet we do absolutely nothing to remedy the situation? We come up with all kinds of excuses as to why our efforts would be useless. We don’t have time, we don’t have the resources or we’re just afraid of taking the first step to change things. I know, personally, it is easier to sit back and whine about how the world is descending into chaos and yet I sit at home and do nothing.
The Lord told Gideon, and he tells us today, if he is with us we can make a difference even if we are alone in our effort. We can be “valiant warriors”. The key is recognizing God’s power and subjecting ourselves to him. Many amazing transformations, in society, have been started by one single, focused individual. Let’s start today to quell the negative, pessimistic complaining and find a place where we can start to make a positive change in our world relying on the power of God to guide us and help us. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:1)