“It’s God’s fault!” “If God really cared …” “God dumped all this #@*^#! on me and then walked away!”
Rather than being a modern complaint, this was the attitude of someone considered a hero of faith—Gideon. In the early stages of his story, Gideon was disillusioned, discouraged, and blamed God for his misfortune.
When we first meet Gideon (Judges 6:11), he is living off the grid and under the radar. His people, the nation of Israel, were oppressed by the bullies of the neighborhood, the Midianites. At harvest time, the bullies swooped in and stole everyone’s lunch money. They came with their camels, livestock, and tents, and gobbled up all of the available resources (3-5). Like a plague of locusts, they stripped the land bare.
In order to get enough grain to feed his family, Gideon is trying to farm and harvest in secret (11). I doubt that worked very well for him.
An angel shows up unbeknownst to Gideon. The angel greets him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor” (12). While Gideon is anything but mighty warrior, it is so like God to see our potential and challenge us to live up to it.
In a rather rude welcome, Gideon throws back the greeting into the angel’s face (13). “If God is with us … and I don’t believe he is … why is life so hard? If God cares … and I doubt he does … why does he keep dumping crap on me? I’ve heard all the stories about God from my ancestors, but I don’t see him at work in my life today. If God is so great … how come we are victimized by every bully in town?”
Gideon was just like us, blaming God for his troubles. What he failed to realize was the cause—effect relationship that brought him to this point. Chapter 6 starts with the statement,
The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian seven years (1).
When Israel walked away from God, God allowed them to reap the natural consequences of their choices.
When the nation cried out for help (6), God sent a prophet who explained the reason for their troubles (7-10). Israel turned their back on God, worshipped the false gods of their generation, and disobeyed God’s instructions. Curiously, there is no evidence of repentance, only cries for mercy. Like Gideon, they blamed God for not being fair (13).
We are more like Gideon than we care to admit. We claim to be god-fearing followers of Jesus. But we act independently, make up our own rules, serve ourselves and our own desires, ignore what we know God says, and then wonder why life is so hard. We fail to see God is in our presence (21-22) and at work all around us.
It is only when we humble ourselves and begin to worship (24) that we can finally discover the peace that has eluded us.