Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manassah, and I am the least in my entire family!” (Judges 6:14-15)
I shall never forget the time as a boy when I came face to face with an angry, mean, coiled up Copperhead. Instantly, my blood pressure rose, my pulse quickened, my pupils dilated, the hair on my neck stiffened, my muscles tensed, and fear flooded my mind. I didn’t have time to think—fight or flight! I jumped as high as I could and raced back up the path. Did I make the right choice? Was it cowardly for me to jump away from the snake? Not to me! When a poisonous snake is involved, I would much rather use “flight” than “fight.” Did I mention that I am deathly afraid of snakes?
It is not a critical issue when the physical area of life is involved, but what about the spiritual areas of life? Sometimes while serving the Lord we find ourselves facing dangerous situations. Like the time we were working with Bible translators in a compound in Ukrarumpa, New Guinea. If we wanted to leave the protection of the compound and drive over to Goroka, we had to face the possibility of bandits stopping and robbing us of our possessions. We always traveled in a caravan of vans to avoid this possibility. Nevertheless, the danger was always prevalent, and for the same reason we were not allowed to walk around the fenced compound at night.
God puts us in different situations where decisions of fight-or-flight must be made so we can learn bravery and trust.
What is Bravery?
In our previous discussion of courage, we saw the internal resolve of Joshua and Caleb who displayed courage in the face of national dissent. Their infusion of courage was the result of absolute faith in the covenant making God of the Israelites.
Gideon possessed a courageous resolve, but he lacked the bravery to demonstrate that courage. In fact, when the angel of the Lord found him, he was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide it from the marauding Midianites (Judges 6:11). The angel promised to go with him to defeat the Midianites and Gideon’s internal courage was demonstrated by bravely taking three hundred men, clay jars with torches inside, and a Ram’s horn to cause such confusion in the camp that the entire army fled for their lives.
If we stay close to the Lord and learn to trust him for all our needs, we can be certain that he will give us the needed courage and bravery to stand against the enemies of God at needed times. Have you, like me, ever been tempted to collapse in sheer panic and fear? It is during those moments when we need to call upon the Lord for courage. He will give us internal resolve to overcome our fears before they overcome us. God’s word says, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13)