(read Judges 6:11-7:22) Gideon was one of the many judges God raised up in Israel during the time when the tribes were very loosely identified as they had no central shrine, and no central worship. They got into big trouble in the Judges period so God would raise up from this tribe, and that tribe charismatic kind of leaders. Gideon was one of them and he was first introduced to us in verse 11, when God called him while he was beating wheat in the winepress. But what was Gideon doing in the winepress? The truth is he was hiding from the Midianite raiders. God appears to this coward of a man and says, “…you, mighty warrior”, and it was a bit puzzling for Gideon how God comes to him when they were in great trouble. The Midianite raiders were all around. All the crops have been gone for seven years. Everybody’s scared to death. And God says, “things are great, Gideon”. Gideon says, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Have you seen what’s happening around here? Everything’s going bad. How can you say you’re with me? And how can you say things are great. How can you say I’m a great warrior? Haven’t you seen what’s happening around here? What’s the matter with you God? Where have you been? I’m hurting haven’t you seen all these problems?”
Does that sound familiar? How many days when you got up in the morning, and things looked so bad. Things looked so bleak. And you look around and say, “Yes God’s here. Sure, God’s here. I just can’t see. I know you’re here Lord. Everything’s working out great. You know my life’s falling apart, but I know you’re here God, i know You care about me”. But really many times, what we have is a mental understanding of God. ‘God loves me. God’s in control of things. God cares for me’, but when it gets down to the practical nitty-gritty of life, when we come down to brass tacks, we wonder where is God? That’s what Gideon is saying. “God it doesn’t look like You’re anywhere around here. It doesn’t look like things are going good. It doesn’t look like You’re in control. It doesn’t look like You care”. Now, what’s the deal? That’s the burning question. Do you think in a day like ours when you just pick up the morning paper and news scared you to death, and you’re almost afraid to go out at night some places. Have you ever wondered, is God really in control? Have you ever wondered the way your own personal life is going, and it seems you couldn’t get the victory over personal sin. During fits of anger, of passion, of despair, of depression, you say ‘where is God.? Do you realize that God was right with Gideon in the rest of his life all those seven years? Those Midianites took all their dreams, but God was with Israel all those years. They were down in bondage, but God was in control and He had a purpose.
God was with Jesus Christ when He was in the temptation experience. God’s with His people when they got dispersed in Jerusalem. God is With Paul when he got beaten and shipwrecked all those many times. Yes, God was there. You say, ‘but doesn’t He care? Yes God cares, but you see, the problem is, we have identified with our finite eyes and with our finite mind, peace comfort, happiness, security, everything’s going great, no clouds, always sunshine, bed of roses with God being with us. And that’s totally, totally not New Testament nor Biblical. How many times God uses the needs of your personal life and the circumstances you find yourself in to make you more like Jesus Christ? Let me ask you a simple question, when have you grown the most in your faith and your understanding of God? Has it been during good times, or in bad times? When have you drawn closer to God in your personal life? Has it been in the good times? or could it be in the hard times? Well, surely it’s been during hard times. It’s been those crisis situations, when you feel that God is a million miles away. But you know what? God’s always been there. But please, we’ve got to get our mind off the idea that God is always going to come through like some kind of a genie to get us out of trouble. It’s not like if you need any more money, just you pray, and God will send you some more money. If you get sick, just pray and God will heal you. Or if you are in a fix, just pray and God’s going to come right in just to change everything and life’s going to be rosy. But this just doesn’t work like that, does it? Sometimes you cry, sometimes those who know God the best, and love God the most, and serve God the deepest, and those who are the most committed to Him are the ones, you wonder what’s happening, things are falling apart.
So I want to say yes, God’s there, and God has a plan for your life, and things just don’t happen to you. And I don’t care how bad it seems to you. I want to tell you, God is still in control. For there is a bigger purpose in the plan of God, than your particular physical and mental happiness. And that is, that you be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. And God will use the needs in your personal life to help you become more like Him. The focus is not you, but Christ!