Have you ever been between “a rock and a hard place”? These can become very dark and difficult places live in. Regardless if your circumstances are self-induced or others-induced hard-times are unavoidable.
Although having a relationship with God or going to church does not make you immune to difficulties in life, we are empowered to overcome. (**Spoiler alert, it does make a difference, keep reading.) I have spoke with people who began to question the kindness or existence of God because of their circumstances or the injustices they see. These situations are not evidence of God’s neglect but an opportunity to partner with God for a supernatural breakthrough.
The book of Judges in the Old Testament is a portrait of choices and consequences. As a covenant people with God, they could expect God to bless them and navigate them through life, and God expected them to remain singularly focused on Him in worship and obedience. Their relationship was built on God’s pledge to them, but the blessings were contingent on their obedience. (See Deuteronomy 28:1-6)
“The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD,” Judges 6:1
Whenever we remove God from being first in our life, we open ourselves up to all kinds of evil. God never intends to harm us or to inhibit us but to shield us from added pain and suffering. The Bible is meant to guide us to live an abundant life free from the control and consequences of sin. Having a relationship with God gives Him the authority to discipline us when we begin to veer off course. His discipline is not in anger but love.
In Judges 6 the people find themselves under the oppression of the Midians and two other nations. Not only have they lost their peace but their fields are being raided, and their flocks stolen, leaving them to starve to death. After seven years of this cruel treatment, the people cried out to God for help.
You don’t have to suffer long before God intervenes. Had the people cried out to God after year one or month one, God would have responded. Take note that God doesn’t come onto the scene, snap His fingers and defeat the enemy. Instead, He chooses to include the people in the process!
As the people cry out to God, God selects a deliverer by the name of Gideon. God finds Gideon in a winepress, threshing wheat. This is not the place you would expect to find someone threshing wheat. Gideon isn’t hiding from the Midians. He is courageously harvesting wheat where the Midians would not expect him to be, so his people could eat. God says, “O mighty man of valor,” a title Gideon disagrees with.
God often interprets our story differently than we do. Gideon believed his circumstances defined him, but God was using his circumstances to refine him. Up to this point, Gideon had removed God from the equation and all he could see was defeat.
“And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” Judges 6:16
Before Israel called out to God, in a desperate attempt to secure freedom, they turned to the false god, Baal. Baal was the god of their oppressors. They created idols and altars in honor of Baal, hoping for relief from their circumstances. An idol is anything that replaces or displaces God from being the source of our life. An idol can even be a way of thinking that diminishes active faith.
Before Gideon could go to battle and defeat the armies surrounding him, he had to do something that was vital to victory. In an act of repentance and revived faith, Gideon went through the town and tore down all the altars built to worship Baal (Judges 6:28-32). Before you can assume victory over the situations, circumstances and strongholds in your life you have to remove those faith-diminishing idols in your life.
If you have called out to God for help but still feel “stuck” in your circumstances, it may be time to see if there are faith-diminishing idols in your life. Maybe it’s a toxic relationship, or a way of thinking, or some alternative philosophy displacing God. Surrender to God those independent attempts to be free and prepare to partner with God in a supernatural answer to your dilemma.