“I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).” How real to us is the promised presence of the Lord? When our world seems totally topsy-turvy? When a best friend turns against us? When our month lasts longer than our money? When life stinks? Jesus assured His disciples that He would always be with them (Matthew 28:20). God has made that same promise to us if we are His people.
Gideon was not in the synagogue when the angel approached him (Judges 6). He was not a powerful spiritual leader. His resume was not impressive. He was in the midst of hiding wheat from the enemy. He and the Lord’s people had lived under their thumb for seven years, and it was their own fault. Deliverance seemed a pointless dream until that supernatural messenger approached. Then, Gideon’s doubts bubbled to the surface.
The angel’s first words were ones that hardly seemed real, “The Lord is with you…” Really? Everything Gideon could see denied it. His emotions told him that God had abandoned them. All of the visible evidence supported such a conclusion. The Midianites and their cohorts had raided the land and robbed the resources. Israel was a mess. Why? If the Lord was really with them, what could possibly explain all of this suffering? Where were all of the old-time miracles he had heard about that had saved them from Egypt? God could not possibly be with a terrorized nation like this, could He? Surely, He had forsaken them.
The next words were just as unbelievable, “…O, valiant warrior.” Who me? I am the littlest guy in an insignificant family. How can I possibly do this? Self-doubt seems to plague God’s chosen soldiers. Not to mention the skepticism that might greet them from those who know them best. From the “Who am I” of Moses to the “I don’t know how because I’m just a kid” of Jeremiah, chosen vessels rarely feel adequate. Gideon found himself in good company. He felt God-forsaken and inadequate. Yet, he was the Lord’s chosen man for the super-sized task.
One promise changed the whole equation: “Surely, I will be with you…” Undersized and outmanned from a human perspective, Gideon had a huge advantage: God. It took a bit of convincing, but the Lord guaranteed victory. He delivered on that promise.
The evidence never looks like it’s in our favor. Our nation grows increasingly secular. Educational institutions from grade school to grad school have joined the chorus of voices singing out against the Lord. We feel overwhelmed. A handful of Christians against the powers of the age seems like an unfair fight and it is, just not in the way it appears. The opposition may have numbers, but we have the assurance of the Lord that He would always be right there with us in the trenches. How real is that promise to us?