Courage Under Fire: Courage When You Feel "Less Than"
by Marilynn Chadwick God loves us when we are weak, but he delights in making us strong. The Bible is filled with stories of how God empowers broken men and women to conquer their enemies, pull down strongholds, move mountains, and accomplish his work on earth. Gideon sure felt less than courageous. He referred to himself as the "least" in a family whose clan was the "weakest" in his tribe. But God sent an angel who greeted the tired and broken man with these encouraging words. God told him, "The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor" (Judges 6:12 ESV). It took a little persuading, but God gave amazing strength and courage to this unlikely hero who defeated enemy armies and returned Israel to her former glory. “The angel of the Lord” is a term reserved for a very special kind of messenger. Most scholars believe “the angel of the Lord” describes an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ. Read a little further. You’ll notice that instead of “the angel of the Lord,” this visitor is actually referred to as the Lord himself. The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” (Judges 6:11-14). This was a defining moment for Gideon. He asked for a sign to see if this was really the Lord. He made an offering of meat and meal, which the Lord touched with his staff. The offering burst into flames, so Gideon knew it was the Lord. He was terrified, certain he would die because he had seen the Lord. But God assured Gideon he would not die. So he built an altar to the Lord and called it, “The Lord is Peace” (Judges 6:24). God then asked Gideon to do a very hard thing. He told him to tear down the altar to the rival god Baal at his father Joash’s home. Gideon took ten servants and did as the Lord had told him. “But because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night” (Judges 6:27). “Who could have done such a thing?” the men of the town asked the next day. They discovered it was Gideon. So they went to Joash and said, “Your son Gideon knocked over Baal’s altar… Hand him over, so we can kill him!” Gideon’s father replied, “Are you trying to take revenge for Baal? If you are, you will be the ones who are put to death. If Baal really is a god, let him take his own revenge on someone who tears down his altar.” That same day, his father changed Gideon’s name to Jerubbaal, explaining, “He tore down Baal’s altar, so let Baal take revenge himself.” (Judges 6:30-32 CEB). This marked the beginning of Gideon as a leader of Israel against her enemies. He is listed among the great heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11, a chapter many call the Hall of Fame of Faith: And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies (Hebrews 11:32-34 NIV). Walk in courage. Let Christ’s power be made perfect in you in times where you feel weak and less than. His grace really is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).