“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
Isn’t God amazing? Throughout the Bible he patiently works with complainers, self-doubters and rebels. And not only that, but God also works his plan through truly weak people, like Gideon—or like a man and woman in marriage.
Gideon had good reason to fear an assignment from God to deliver the children of Israel from the oppression of the Midianites. His faith and his clan were weak, and the Israelites were mixing Baal worship with God worship. Even just talking to the Lord must have struck fear in Gideon’s heart: Didn’t he also deserve to be punished for failing to worship God with his whole heart?
Gideon thought his conversation with God was all about him. But, as we find out, Gideon came to realize he was just a player in God’s story, and God was the One with the power to save Israel. God patiently worked with Gideon to remove his doubts and to make him aware that God alone was his strength, telling him in verse 16, “I will be with you.”
So how do we complainers, self-doubters and rebels respond when we encounter God’s assignments in our married life? The first challenge is that there are two of us for God to deal with. Since God established the marriage covenant, he’s not inclined to undermine it by leading a husband and wife in different directions.
When my husband Grey and I were ending a one-year overseas mission assignment, the director of the mission agency challenged us to return as career workers. Grey was game, but I was unwilling to commit because I didn’t want to take on the challenge of raising financial support. We had funded one year of mission work with our own savings, but relying on God to lead people to support us caused me great anxiety.
While Grey stayed steady in his commitment to return to the mission field, I, like Gideon, whined about it and then asked God for a sign. When the first sign came (I encouraged Grey to look for a job in the United States, but all those career doors closed), I asked for another sign. Gideon-like, I was setting up my own fleece experiments.
This time God’s response was unmistakable. People started giving to us. Check after check finally brought me to the conclusion that God wanted to use us, ordinary people, to do his work overseas. We were nothing special, but raising support went well. We went back to the field for nine more years.
Gideon’s story, and the whole Bible, is full of principles we can apply to our lives today. Each day of marriage we can recall God’s blessings to us, be assured that he is with us—even in our weaknesses—and believe that he has work for us to do.
Mary Ann Jeffreys