What has you scared this week? Maybe it’s how far behind you are on your Christmas shopping. Maybe it’s the latest news concerning the ever-evolving pandemic. Or maybe those haven’t even entered your mind. Maybe there are other things that have you scared, or maybe you aren’t feeling all that fearful today. Regardless of how you are experiencing fear right this moment, we all know what fear feels like–and so did the Israelites.
The book of Judges tells the story of God’s people in a cycle of rebellion, oppression, repentance, and deliverance. In Judges 6, it is Midian that overpowered Israel, stealing their produce, until they cried out to the Lord for help. That’s when God sent a word to the people that they were not to fear the gods of the Amorites because He was the Lord their God. And yet, the people continued to disobey God’s voice. That’s where Gideon would come in. God was determined to use Gideon to rescue his people from the oppressive practices of the Midianites. The problem was Gideon wasn’t so sure. He was, after all, the weakest member of the weakest family in Israel. He was going to need some clear signals (apparently clearer than an angelic encounter) that this was God’s plan. The Lord’s message, however, was unwavering, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” Did that eradicate Gideon’s fear? He would do what the Lord said, but he did it under the cover of darkness because of his fear of his family and his community.
The life of Gideon was lived–like ours–at the intersection of faith and fear. He listened to the Lord, trusted Him, and obeyed. But he was also keenly aware of the risks involved with answering God’s call on his life. Gideon’s story shows us that faith and fear aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, by the time we reach Judges 7:10, we hear the Lord speaking directly to Gideon’s fears, “But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.” God didn’t react to Gideon’s fears by withdrawing His presence. He didn’t grow frustrated by Gideon’s repeated requests for confirmation. He led Gideon as He does us when we are afraid–with tenderness and patience. So whatever has you scared today, you can trust God to lead you.