Why Has This Happened?

The moment in Judges 6 when Gideon meets an angel is both dramatic and incongruous. The angel calls him a “mighty man of valor” while he is hiding out in a winepress in an attempt to thresh wheat without being seen by the occupying Midianites (Judges 6:11). There is not much might or valor about him!

It’s as if God focused the camera on Gideon as a microcosm of His people. Perhaps in that moment, Gideon looked over his shoulder, wondering if the greeting was really meant for him. After all, the Lord had allowed His people to be reduced to hiding out in caves. So he asked, “If the LORD is with us, why then has all of this happened to us?”

It’s a sensible question: if God is who He claims to be, then why does He allow troubling circumstances in our lives? We can surely relate. All of our lives are full of ifs, buts, and whys. We should be encouraged, though, to know that if God could answer Gideon’s question or the cries of Israel, He can surely handle our difficult questions—even if His answer is not always what we expect.

When the Israelites cried out for God’s help in Judges 6:7, He responded not by sending a warrior to deliver them but a prophet to teach them (v 8). God knew that they needed to hear His word in the midst of their trials. Ultimately, they needed to turn back to Him and trust in His promises. The prophet told them in outline what the angel would tell Gideon: “The LORD is with you.” The presence of God and the existence of trials can co-exist.

The questions we raise are finally answered not in some list of “five easy steps” but in God’s disclosure of Himself through His word. In Gideon’s case, God’s response seemed to be no answer at all. There was no dialogue concerning Israel’s circumstances or any explanation about their enemies. Instead, the Lord turned to Gideon and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” (Judges 6:14).

Gideon felt inadequate: “How can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (Judges 6:15). Often, though, it’s exactly when we admit our inadequacy that God begins to work in us. Until we reach the point where we can see our weakness, we will not be inclined to pray, to walk steadfast through trials, or to stop trusting in ourselves. Only when we know our own shortcomings and listen to God’s promise to be with us and to work in and through us will we commit to serving Him with all that we have, weak though we feel and are. For in His word God promises that our weakness plus God’s strength is sufficient for any task He calls us to (Philippians 4:13).

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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