God’s purpose for His people in every age is that we might depend upon Him entirely.
When God called him to save the Israelites, Gideon was faced with an overwhelming task: his army had to face the Midianites. Their army was said to be as overwhelming as locusts, and “their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance” (Judges 7:12). Gideon’s army of 32,000 paled in comparison.
And then the Lord said to him, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand.” And so 22,000 left the army. No doubt Gideon was doing the math and wondering how he could strategically match strength for strength with even fewer soldiers. What he didn’t know was that he was about to learn the necessity of weakness.
God is always at work in our circumstances to bring us to a greater dependence on Him and a deeper praise for His rescue. In Gideon’s life, as in our own lives today, God left no doubt that He alone is God. His glory won’t be shared with or stolen by anyone else. Simply put, God is wholly adequate; we are not. Both then and now, He helps us see the necessity of humbly acknowledging our weakness in order to magnify His greatness. The truth is, our pride is at its ugliest when it emerges as spiritual pride—when we begin to boast in our experiences with God or our successes for God. That was the tendency of the “super-apostles” to whom Paul referred in 2 Corinthians 12:11; they seemed so powerful, full of stories to tell about how they were filled with the power of the Spirit. But Paul simply answered, “If I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me” (v 6). He understood that humility, weakness, and inadequacy are all key to usefulness in God’s kingdom.
That is why God further reduced Gideon’s army to a mere 300 (Judges 7:7). He was going to achieve His plan with so few people that when the victory came, everyone would know the source of the victory. And in God’s kindness, He still does this for us today. He reminds us that those who are most useful to His plan and purpose are those who, in the world’s eyes, are not up to the task—because then it is clear that it is His work and not theirs. This is bad news for you if you would like to hold on to your pride and self-dependence. It is bad news for you if you would like to receive praise. It is, however, amazing news for you if you know you are inadequate for the tasks that God sets before you. What among the things you are facing do you feel wholly ill-equipped to handle? Depend on Him and walk forward in obedience, and you will discover that His power is displayed in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)—and you will praise Him all the more.