Thursday, August 6, 2015

When You Need Help Believing

Sometimes we need help believing.
Sometimes the Lord calls us to be, to do, something that we can’t quite believe we are able. We dream big, and we wish grand, but the reality of what we believe about ourselves is anything but grand. Perhaps our reality looks more like a small person trying to do what it takes to survive.

That was the case for Gideon. He was hiding out in a winepress threshing wheat. A sure sign of times gone awry, desperate circumstances. Resourcefulness born of desperation, of fear. A time when objects, places, lose their original purpose and serve the need of the moment. A winepress was not designed to thresh wheat. 

It was in this necessary state of survival that Gideon was called to believe beyond his circumstances, beyond the reality he felt sure was true. 

The Lord found Gideon in the winepress, and called him by a name which seemed completely contrary to his situation. “The Lord is with you, Mighty Warrior,” (Judges 6:12).

To be hunched over, working hard, looking up only to sneak a peek over his shoulder for Midian bandits, and have the angel of the Lord appear and call him “Mighty Warrior” must have seemed like an afternoon comedy act, delirium from the heat of the day, the toil of his labor.

Warrior? Mighty? Try edgy, nervous, stressed to the max, Fearful.

The words of the Lord shook Gideon to the core of his disappointment in God. He was from a people of dreamers. The Israelites had always dreamed large, and they knew they had the God of Israel to back those dreams up. Gideon had grown up hearing stories of how the Lord had delivered His people from Egypt with wonder and might. 

But right there, right then, from Gideon’s viewpoint, God had abandoned them and given them over to the hand of Midian (v. 13). He is disappointed and angry. Gideon replies to the Lord’s greeting with the classic question many have asked since, “If God is with us, then why…????”

Belief beyond circumstances is incredibly hard. 

I would like to even say that it is impossible without God’s intervention, His supernatural gifting of faith. Pain and suffering, fear and doubt are all very real feelings, and wrap themselves around our hearts and minds like suffocating fingers, seeking to choke all hope and life out of us. They would dictate to us that they know our reality, that they know who we really are. Hopeless.

But God. 

But God knows who you are. He has made you and I to be mighty warriors, to rise above the circumstances of the winepress and believe something more. Something insanely counter to the reality our eyes see. Something only God can achieve in tandem with our belief.

Gideon voiced his doubt, and poured his honest disappointment out to the Lord. And the marvelous began. The hand of Gideon’s disbelief clasping the hand of God’s guiding presence. A man of the weakest tribe, the least in his family, becomes a warrior. A man who until then had only heard of the God of his fathers from afar now meets Him intimately and becomes His instrument. 

A miraculous transformation takes place in Gideon. He becomes who God named him to be. Mighty Warrior.

But this change does not occur instantly, magically, as if God were a genie. Gideon has to walk through his own weakness, his own unbelief to reach the place of complete trust. And I think you and I could learn from his journey.

Don’t be afraid to be honest with God.

Honesty with God brings relief. Telling him our disappointments and fears clears our hearts and our minds that we may hear Him more clearly, making the next step clear. God’s answer to Gideon’s honesty was to shift Gideon’s focus from what he did not have, to what he did: “Go in the strength you have…” (v. 14)

Bring your logic to God.

God’s call in our lives may appear illogical! It certainly did to Gideon. He all but laughs when God tells him to go and save Israel, replying, “But Lord, how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family,”  (v. 15)

It is then that the battle plan becomes clear. God answers Gideon’s logic with His own. He, the Lord will be with Gideon, and that will be all it takes. Not strategy. Not social standing. Not family esteem. God’s presence with Gideon. God’s presence with us.

Lay out your fleece, not just once, but twice if you need to.

God not only knows who we are, he knows what we need. Gideon needed reassurance right down to the last few days before the great battle. At night, alone with God, Gideon boldly asks Him for a sign to help his unbelief. 

As he sat wakeful and tense awaiting the dawn, Gideon needed to test God’s promise. Taking what he had in front of him, he took off his fleece, laid it on the ground, and asked God to soak it with dew, but leave the ground dry. Then he would know God was going to keep His promise to defeat the Midianites. The next morning, it was just as he asked. The fleece was so wet he wrung out the dew- a bowlful of water.

Maybe Gideon still doubted himself after that, or doubted the nature of how dew falls on the ground at night. I don’t know. But he still doubted, and needed one more assurance. The next night, he lays his fleece out again, and, asking God to please not be angry with him, requests one more test. This time, make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew. Sure enough, the next morning the fleece was dry and the ground was wet with dew. 

On that new day, we see a new Gideon. The old Gideon, the Disappointed, Hopeless one, the one who called himself the Weakest, the Least, is gone. We hear God speak, and Gideon acts. The old pattern of negotiation, fear, and doubt have vanished. In its place is God speaking, Gideon obeying. 

A mighty man of faith has emerged from the winepress, a man worth watching, worth following. He does not show doubt and fear, but leadership. And he is being led by the One who promised, the One who called him what he could not believe about himself, Mighty Warrior.

Instead of being punished by God for needing reassurance, Gideon was helped in his place of doubt. 

Instead of encountering impatience and pressure, Gideon encountered the patient love of a God who knew who Gideon really was meant to be. And He had time to wait for Gideon to realize it too, even if it took a silly game of Wet-the-Fleece.  

God is not angry with you for not quite being able to believe. 

He is with you, alongside you, and He is waiting for you to look up and tell Him your doubts. Your times are in His hands, and you cannot stop His plan for you, the fulfillment of who He knows you to be by asking for help believing.

Join the conversation today about the struggle to believe. Your comments below may be part of someone else’s journey to faith.


Sometimes the Lord calls us to be, to do, something that we can’t quite believe we are able. (Click to Tweet)

God is not angry with you for not quite being able to believe.  (Click to Tweet)

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