Reading the Bible gives me so much encouragement. In its pages I find truth, life, and power. Recently, I read the story of Gideon in Judges 6.
The Israelites were God’s chosen people, but they were in a terrible state because of their sin. The Bible says they had done evil in the Lord’s sight by doing what was right in their own eyes. As a result, God allowed the Midianites, their harsh enemy, to ravage their land, destroy their crops, and kill their livestock.
Their plight reminds us that living a life deliberately contrary to God’s will and in pursuit of one’s own desires will lead to hard, frightening, barren, and lonely places.
In Judges 6:11, we meet Gideon, who was threshing wheat while hiding in a winepress. The fact that he was threshing wheat in a deep hole where wine is usually pressed shows just how afraid he was. He was hoping his enemy wouldn’t see him and steal his grain.
Reportedly, the Midian army was so vast the Israelites couldn’t even count their camels, much less the warriors themselves. No wonder Gideon was hiding.
And yet, that place of fear, desperation, and isolation was exactly where the angel of the Lord chose to appear to Gideon. He greeted him and presented an incredible, God-sized assignment: God wanted Gideon to deliver the Israelites from the hand of their enemy.
I love the angel’s greeting for Gideon in Judges 6:12. The NIV says: “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” The NLT says: “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!”
Remember now, this “hero” was so frightened, he was in hiding!
The angel’s greeting holds truths that can change our lives. Notice how, before he said anything else, the angel made sure that Gideon knew God was with Him. But those words were hard for Gideon to receive.
Life was hard. Our man was hungry, afraid, and facing an evil army. His response in Judges 6:13 shows his doubts: “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about?” (NIV).
Those were some brave questions to ask an angel—but Gideon felt abandoned, even punished, by God. All those miracles he’d heard about that God used to do for the Israelites? Well, he hadn’t seen one. And now this God wanted Gideon to do what?
Have you ever asked God questions like these? Maybe you’ve said, “Pardon me, but where are You, God? Where are the miracles I’ve heard about? Why haven’t You rescued me and my family? Why do we have to suffer so much?”
I wish I could answer your questions. I have my own. Unfortunately, this passage shows us that we won’t always get the answers we seek. Gideon didn’t.
The angel answered Gideon’s questions with this command, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (v. 14 NIV).
My personal paraphrase of this verse is: “Gideon, you don’t need to understand why. All you need to know is that I am with you and I am sending you. Trust Me. Trust that in Me you are strong enough. Come out of the winepress, and you’ll see miracles like you’ve never imagined. You will lead my people and defeat your enemy. I will use you to change the world.”
At this point, Gideon had two options. He could stay in the winepress, full of fear, doubt, confusion, and maybe even anger toward God. Or he could come out of the winepress and join God on an adventure. We have these options too.
Please—don’t choose to stay in the winepress. Don’t let your questions keep you from the answers you seek. God is the answer. Don’t let your doubts keep you from facing whatever lies before you. It’s when you step out with God to face your enemy that amazing things start to happen.
The angel of the Lord reminded Gideon that he was not alone. He also reminded Gideon who he was in God’s eyes. Gideon was God’s mighty hero. His warrior. His champion.
Think about it—God called Gideon, a frightened man hiding in a winepress, a mighty warrior! God always sees us as we can be. He sees the champion in each of us.
But Gideon didn’t feel like a champion; he felt like a chump. “How can I save Israel?” he protested. “My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (Judges 6:15 NIV).
Surely, our man thought God had the wrong guy—but God had chosen exactly the man He wanted to use, and through Gideon, God showed His glory to both Israel and her enemy.
God loves to use people the world says are useless, people who are afraid and facing tremendous odds (1 Corinthians 1:27). And He uses them to change the world.
Gideon did choose to step out and take God at His word, but it wasn’t easy. In fact, right before he went into battle, God stripped Gideon of everything he could have relied on. He sent home most of the army, along with their mighty weapons and clever military strategies.
Read Judges 7:17–25 to learn how the enemy was defeated when God caused the Midianites to turn on each other with their own swords while Gideon and his 300 men blew trumpets, smashed pitchers, and waved torches.
When God is on your side—when you’re on His side—even if all odds are against you, you will not be defeated. Even when you’ve lost everything the world says you need to succeed, there’s still hope. Romans 8:31 NIV says, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” No one.
Nothing can separate you from His love or His power. Nothing can stop God. There is no enemy too great for Him. Read Romans 8:38–39. With God, you win!
Are you hiding in fear, feeling powerless and worthless? Then you are exactly the one God wants to invite on an adventure with Him. Maybe you feel like you have nothing to give to God. That’s okay—He only needs you. Do you feel weak and helpless? Go in the strength you have. That’s all God needs. Does the enemy seem too great? No worries. God is greater.
Step out in your weakness. God promises to meet you with His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9–11). As you live in faith, even if it’s as small as a mustard seed, God will move the obstacles that are in your way (Matthew 17:20). He will fight your battles. And all the while, He’ll be looking at you and saying, “You are My mighty, courageous warrior.”
Receive this truth today. Come out of your hiding place; victory is yours.
Kristi Overton Johnson encourages and equips people for victory through her writings, speaking engagements, and prison ministry. To learn more, go to kojministries.org.