Go In This Your Strength
The LORD looked at [Gideon] and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” (Judges 6:14, NASB)
What an utterly strange thing for the LORD to say. Here is Gideon, hiding in a wine press, threshing wheat so the marauding Midianites don’t steal or destroy it. Gideon, scripture tells us, is the youngest son in the least family in the tribe of Manasseh (Judges 6:15). He’s certainly not great among men, nor great in stature.
Truth be told, Gideon isn’t even great in faith! Just one verse prior, he asked the angel of the LORD where God was in all of this.
“O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about…?” (Judges 6:13, NASB)
If any of us were tasked with selecting a man of strength in Israel at the time who would deliver them from the Midianites, Gideon probably would have been the first man eliminated. So why did the LORD say “Go in this your strength”? What strength?
I don’t know that much about being strong, neither physically, mentally, nor spiritually. Chronic joint problems prevent me from building the muscle tone that most active young men my age have. The symptoms of my traumatic brain injury still interfere with my ability to focus, think, and communicate; I speak with a stutter and am one of the most naturally ineloquent people you’ll meet. And when things get tough, my chronic anxiety usually kicks me in the teeth right out of the gate.
I am, therefore, definitely one of the least qualified people to be a public speaker or an entrepreneur. Yet, for whatever reason, God selected me for both roles.
A particularly difficult obstacle cropped up in my business last night, and I found myself once again asking God for answers. By His grace, I managed to stop myself before I got too deep into that activity, however. God rarely gives answers in the midst of the battle, on account of it defeating the main purpose: to build our faith. Instead, I turned my attention to handing the whole situation over to Him.
In the midst of praying, I found myself remembering the story of Gideon as I fell asleep. So, you can imagine my surprise when I open my Bible for my morning devotional and find myself reading that exact story. As I came across verse 14, I did a double-take.
“Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?”
It took me a moment of staring, and then I realized what strength the LORD was talking about.
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (2 Corinthians 12:9, NASB)
Gideon’s strength was literally found in his utter weakness. He was the least likely to be a warrior, least likely to be a fearless general, and least likely to be a man of faith. God selected him for the task of defeating the Midianites, not despite his weakness, but because of it. It was in Gideon’s weakness that God’s strength could be shown.
Some well-meaning people have told me that I should just ask God to heal all of my physical ailments right away. However, from years of walking with these weaknesses, I will not presume to know His mind or His timing. Scripture is filled with weak and broken people whom God uses; even many of those Christ healed had carried their ailments and diseases for many years before their healing.
As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents, but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:1-3, NASB)
Christ did not declare that the man had a lack of faith which led him to be blind. He was blind purely so God could do a miracle in and through him!
I have learned, and am still learning in fact, to be patient before God in my weaknesses, especially the physical ones that can be so hard to walk through many times. I know He can and will ultimately heal everything broken in me, but I will wait on His timing, whether that be tomorrow, next year, next decade, or in eternity. I will not ask God to remove the conduit of my strength!
Before Gideon could win the battle against the Midianites, there was another battle he had to win. Gideon had to tear down the idols in his own life.
God always chooses to do his greatest work through vessels wholly dedicated to Him, people who put Him first above all else. In Gideon’s case, this meant he had to tear down his family’s idols. The altar to Baal and the Asherah on top of their stronghold had to come down, and an altar to the LORD had to be built in their place.
It is not enough to be weak, but we must be weak and dedicated to God. He is not asking us to be mighty or strong, only to be devoted wholly to Him. We all have idols in our lives, areas of darkness and sin that our hearts want to preserve. Not only do we value these idols, but we fear how others will react when we begin tearing those idols down.
Then Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had spoken to him; and because he was too afraid of his father’s household and the men of the city to do it by day, he did it by night. (Judges 6:27, NASB)
Tearing down the idols in our lives is an ongoing battle, but the important matter is that we keep fighting – not in our own strength, but in His.
If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:6-10)
It is easy to lose sight of the context of that verse. John is writing to believers in this letter, describing throughout that we continually find freedom from sin through Christ. We can’t make ourselves holy – if we could, we already would be – but He makes us holy through the relationship we have with Him. It is the LORD who gives us strength to tear down the idols in our lives, day by day, year by year, until we are “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29, NASB).
I will be honest: there are still idols in my life, places I have not yet fully surrendered to the work of Christ. By His grace, I am daily being transformed, bit by bit. God allows storms to come into my life to strengthen my dependence on Him, and to weaken my own selfish habits and desires.
This, then, is the other strength found in weakness. The weaker I am, the closer I walk to the LORD, my source of strength. The closer I am to the LORD, the more I am strengthened to tear down the idols in my life. The more idols I tear down, the more places I dedicate to the LORD, the closer my relationship to Him grows. What a beautiful cycle!
It is in this place of weakness that I am strong enough to face the battles God has called me to. I am a public speaker because I am ineloquent. I am an entrepreneur because I am unqualified and afraid. Every victory in my life, then, is impossible in human terms, therefore God is glorified to the world.
LORD, I thank You for and embrace the weakness you have granted to me, that Your strength be made manifest in my life, and that Your name, alone, be glorified in my every victory. Amen.