“And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, ‘The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.’” (Judges 6:12)
The Lord often asks us to endure difficulties, engage in actions that require a storehouse of courage with bushels of his mercy and grace thrown in the mix. We stutter and dawdle, afraid our inept and skimpy efforts will be swallowed whole by some monstrous task with its gaping jaw.
We are much like Gideon of old, hiding in our version of the winepress lest the enemy seizes and destroys what little we have remaining in our control. We relate to Gideon’s predicament when we feel under attack, besieged by locusts bent on our destruction. Like the Midianites in this Biblical conflict, our circumstances are devouring our stockpile of resources. They “encamp” against us, leaving no reserve, bringing us low, leaving us dejected. Catastrophe closes in behind.
God entered Gideon’s world; He is fully present in ours as well. “The LORD is with you,” is the reinforcement we need to face the battle ahead. Jehovah, the all-powerful, all-knowing God of our universe, wants us to grasp this astonishing truth above all other scenarios demanding our attention: “The LORD is with you.” Right there by our side is his full-blown, irrevocable promise to never leave, to never forsake, to never move away and leave us alone.
Since the LORD is with us precisely where we are, he knows exactly what is unfolding in our lives. Nothing catches him by surprise. With the LORD beside us, behind and before, we cannot fail. He is rear-guard and right-hand man. He offers us strength that topples our weakness, wisdom without boundaries, peace that protects us from fear’s ugly face. To keep this truth uppermost in our minds, transforms it into a barrier of defense. To surround ourselves with this unshakable reality turns it into a shield and safety net, arsenal and articulate plan.
Doubts will push through the front lines to paralyze. Worries might wrestle us to the ground, immobilizing us without lifting a finger. But the Lord who quieted Gideon’s reservations sends similar fortifications our way. “And the LORD said to him, ‘But I will be with you’” (Judges 6:16). Yes, reasons to fear exist. Of course, the enemy is formidable and our resources seemingly non-existent. Nevertheless, remember the promise! His very name Immanuel guarantees God’s presence right there beside us.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:7-8).
Elizabeth Karram Mitchell