Does God ever ask you to endure circumstances that don’t make sense? Do you ever end up in a situation where you have absolutely zero idea how to proceed? Or if you know what you’re supposed to do, it really doesn’t sound like it’s going to work? I’ve been there a lot. Popular culture or common practice would lead me to do one thing, but God is pretty obviously telling me to do something else. And usually God’s way is eccentric at best … utterly ridiculous at worst, at least in our opinion and the in the eyes of the world.
But if you know God like I do, you understand that there’s always a reason for why He asks us to do things or not to do things. He always has a plan, and He always has a reason. We may not know it, and honestly we might never. But the situation will always work out, not only for your good but for His glory too. That’s just the way He is. But to get to that point, we may have to endure some things that sound like they’ll set us back. We might have to endure through circumstances that make absolutely no sense at all.
Today’s verse is Judges 6:14.
Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!”
I’m not sure how many people know the story of Gideon, which is found in the Old Testament book of Judges 6-8. The bulk of the story that most people are familiar with is in Judges 7. I won’t go into the history or the cultural issues at the time, but let’s just say that Israel was in a tight spot, mostly by their own doing. They’d flipped God off too many times and in order for them to come to grips with the fact that they had betrayed Him, they needed to experience some difficulty. In those days, usually that difficulty manifested through being conquered by another people, and in this story it’s a race of people called the Midianites.
Basically the story of Gideon is how God used a completely ordinary (actually pretty cowardly) man to save the nation of Israel. It’s one of my favorite stories. But what happens in Judges 7 is pretty remarkable. God came to a cowardly man and told him to rescue his people from a huge, powerful nation. Does that make sense?
Well, if you read the story, you’ll see that any sense that was there rapidly dissipated. Because a bunch of people showed up to fight the Midianites with Gideon (32,000), and God told him that there were too many. So Gideon sent a bunch of them home (22,000!!). But even then, with 10,000 people, God said there were still too many.
Too many? Seriously? Well, apparently so. Because after a series of tests, Gideon sent another 700 home. So he had 300 left.
300 men against the entire Midianite army. Does that make sense to you? And, no, we’re not talking about the story of the 300, the army of Spartans who faced the Persian army at Thermopylae. Even if someone tried to compare the two, the point is completely different. The 300 Spartans planned to die; Gideon and his army of 300 planned to win.
And they did. With trumpets, torches, and clay jars.
Read the story. It’s something else. And it’s an example of how God will demand very strange things to accomplish His plans, and it shows how we need to be ready and willing to do what God is asking, not just because He’s God but because no matter how strange His request, He has a purpose for it. I could wax eloquent for another hour explaining all the reasons why attacking the Midianite army with 32,000 unwilling soldiers was a bad idea, but for that, I’d need another cup of coffee, and you probably get the point already anyway.
So what does this mean today? Well, take a real, hard, serious look at what God is asking you to do. Is He asking you to leave everything and follow Him in some great adventure? Is He asking you to be kind to someone who isn’t kind back to you? Is He asking you to give more financially (or emotionally) to His work? It will be different for every person because God has different plans for everyone.
But no matter who you are or where you are or what God is currently doing in your life, you can trust that He does have a plan. And if it doesn’t make sense to you right now, that’s okay. It doesn’t have to make sense. Gideon asked God for a number of signs throughout Judges 6, and many times I have heard that used to show that Gideon was cowardly. Because after all, if Gideon had been a real hero, he would have recognized that it was God speaking to Him.
Well, sorry to disappoint you, but if I had been in Gideon’s shoes, I’m not sure I would have trusted that the guy who showed up in my yard telling me to invade the terrifying enemy army on my doorstep was God. I’m not that good of a person. I don’t have that much faith. If you do, kudos. But I probably would have asked for a sign too.
It’s okay to ask questions. It’s okay to be unsure. But once you decide to do what God is calling you to do, even if it doesn’t make sense, you have to trust Him.
The next time God asks you to do something for Him that doesn’t make sense to you, do it anyway. See what happens. You might be surprised how God can use something that doesn’t make sense to help you achieve a goal you never thought was possible.