When We Are Helpless

When we are helpless, we are best-placed to learn true faith.

At the beginning of Judges 6, the people of Israel once again “did what was evil in the sight of the LORD” (v 1). They had trapped themselves in a recurring cycle of rebellion and repentance, slow to learn and quick to forget that their difficult circumstances were often related to their disobedience. Ultimately, the Israelites struggled to understand that God would allow them to come to a place where their only response would be to cry out for help so that He could bring them into communion with Himself, for His glory and their good. He does this for us today, too, working out His purposes in the lives of those who know themselves to be helpless. It is those who know they are “poor in spirit,” not those who think they are sufficient in themselves, to whom Jesus promises the kingdom (Matthew 5:3).

Some of us mistakenly believe that if we just follow Jesus, everything will always fall into line. Deep down, we think that God will always and immediately intervene to remove hardship. When God doesn’t answer our prayers how or when we want, we wonder if we can still trust that He knows best. Perhaps you are in that place today.

Repeatedly throughout Scripture, God promises to come to our aid when we ask: “The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore” (Psalm 121:6-8). These are guarantees of God’s word. Yet the way in which He fulfills such promises is often along rocky terrain, amid dark valleys, and in uncomfortable waiting rooms.

When God interceded with His people in Judges, He turned them back to His word, convicting them. The prophet, speaking the very words of God, reminded the Israelites of what they needed to know: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery … I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God …’ But you have not obeyed my voice” (Judges 6:8, 10). But then, in a little twist of the tale, just when we anticipate God’s judgment, we read instead that “the angel of the LORD appeared” with these words of mercy: “The LORD is with you” (v 12).

Where would we be if God gave to us the judgment that we deserve instead of demonstrating His mercy day by day? He did not give the people of Israel what they deserved, nor has He done so with you and me. God’s mercy and grace know no end. But in His goodness, He often uses the hard things in our lives to teach us that He is all we need. The removal of a good thing causes pain but can also bring us to cry out to God and find in Him our strength and peace and hope. Cry out to Him for help, filled with the hope that the God who hears you truly knows what is best. The Lord is with you!

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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