“If the LORD is With Us, Then Why?”

And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, ‘The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.’ And Gideon said to him, ‘Please, my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, “Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?” But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.’” Judges 6:12-13

How often, in our finite reasoning, we make wrong assumptions of God! Because Israel was suffering under the oppression of Midian, Gideon questioned God– His goodness, His power. If God had delivered them from Egypt, would He not keep them free? Didn’t God’s presence mean freedom from trouble? Wasn’t God’s blessing defined by smooth happiness and rosy living? If God was almighty as His reputation claimed, and Israel belonged to Him, how could they be overpowered by this cruel nation? If God had promised a land of milk and honey, why was their produce being devoured, their land laid waste? But what Gideon failed to acknowledge was that Israel had fallen in love with Midian’s gods. (Judges 6:1-10)

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We readily believe God is a dispenser of blessing and bounty. We want Him to exact justice on evil people. We assume that if He is really on our side, we and those we love will be healthy, comfortable, without adversaries or obstacles. We select the attributes we prefer Him display- generosity, mercy, lovingkindness- but do not always like His holiness and righteousness. We count on Him to keep His promises, but are not so committed ourselves to keep (and excuse not keeping) His benevolent demands. We want Him to be trustworthy while we excuse our own slips. We are idol-makers. We live and move in the horizontal, reducing God to god and dictating what and how this god should behave. We attempt to manipulate Him to our image, and get thrown off when He rises up as the pure and powerful One He is.

By calling us to be set apart as His people, the Lord is inviting to us His eternal and high perspective. He is holy, and shares His glory with no-one. It is a good thing that He disciplines us, because His intent is our holiness and peace. If we would lay down our arms, our excuses, our finger-wagging, our rights, if we would be honest about the bent of our own hearts, our rebel affections, our contrived justifications, we would fly to the mighty arms of our merciful Savior and welcome His perfect work on our behalf. We would see things as He does, and we could make sense of His ways, at least as much as we can trust His character and goodness. (Isaiah 42:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 12:5-11)

Holy God, so captivate my heart’s desires that I worship You alone. Show me my idols, and cleanse me from thinking my thoughts are Yours. Grant me Your perspective on things here below, that I marvel in You above.

 

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