When You Face a Force Reduction
by Tom Goodman
February 11, 2015
Have you lost something you felt was absolutely necessary for your happiness, self-worth, or security? Will you look for God to show up precisely there?
Of course we want to ask, "How can that be? How can a layoff or a hospitalization or a romantic breakup be preparation for God to show up?"
Gideon must have wondered that. After all, in Judges 7, God ordered him to reduce his troops over 90 percent before going into battle. And it wasn't like he had a lot to begin with. When Gideon rallied Israel to join him in a battle against 135,000
Midianite invaders, 32,000 responded: That's a 4-to-1 disadvantage. But then God directed Gideon to trim the fighters down to 300: That's a 450-to-1 disadvantage! This was the number God used to win a mighty victory for Israel.
From time to time God will separate us from the things we depend on so that we can learn to depend solely on him. It's a severe mercy, because some of the things we depend on are very dear: physical attractiveness, health, financial security, a
parent, a partner. The odds of making life work without these things may seem as high as the odds Gideon faced without his troop numbers.
But Gideon found that God's curious force reduction was just preparation to see God's wondrous work. His story is repeated today. When you experience some sort of heartbreaking "force reduction" in your life, trust that God can use that very
experience to display his glory.
The Apostle Paul discovered that God showed up strongest where Paul was weakest. When he wrote about this discovery in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, he concluded, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may
rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Look at the words he used: Boast. Gladly. Delight. We don't always use these words when describing God's "force reduction" in our lives. Not consistently; not yet. We may be more like Gideon, who lurched unsteadily forward toward this truth. But at
least forward is the right direction!
Let's talk about this some more this weekend. We continue our sermon series through the story of Gideon this Sunday at 10 a.m.
Interfaith Discussion. I will be joining a panel to discuss the differences and similarities between Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism. The event takes place Thursday, February 19, 2015, 7:00 - 9:00 PM in the King-Seabrook Chapel of
Huston-Tillotson University. There's more information at www.anchorcourse.org/interfaithdiscussion.
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