Scripture Reading: Judges 7:1-25, Isaiah 41:10, Ephesians 6:10
When was the last time you were in a battle you could not win without divine intervention?
It’s hard for me to find an answer. Sure, I enjoy the occasional challenge, but I like to keep those challenges to a minimum, so I can feel capable and in control. And if I’m honest, I’m happy with this life of manageable risks—enough to create some drama, but not so much that it requires great faith. There’s an underlying pride to living like this, because when things go well, I can answer, “Oh that’s easy. I did it myself.”
News flash: God doesn’t need me, and He doesn’t need you.
I know that sounds harsh, but that’s kind of the point of Judges 7. I wonder if that’s what Gideon told his men that day as they prepared to face down the greatest enemy of their time. “Are you scared? You can leave. God doesn’t need you.” In that one moment, two-thirds of Gideon’s army walked away. Can you imagine? You’re standing there, covered in armor, and the person to your left and your right both leave. The field must have felt very empty.
But God wasn’t done whittling down the troops. He told Gideon to take his men to the water and split them into “kneelers” and “lappers.” Commentaries disagree about the “How do they drink water?” test; some argue that it was an arbitrary way to narrow down the fighting force quickly, while others wonder if the “lappers” let down their guard. Could it be that God chose to use the most irresponsible men to make the victory that much more miraculous? Regardless, what was a force of more than 30,000 at the beginning of the day had been narrowed to just 300.
We know how this story ends, but the men in Gideon’s army did not. And as much as God reassured them, on paper it was a suicide mission. This risk didn’t require strength or chariots or better weapons or more “hustle.” It required faith in divine intervention. It required them to rely on God alone, to “be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength” (Ephesians 6:10).
The men who went into the valley needed faith, but the men who were sent away needed it just the same. I can imagine their startled disbelief as Gideon pointed them away from the water. “Wait! We’re the fearless ones! Surely God needs us!” But He didn’t, and those men needed to know where their power came from. For the men who left and the men who went down into the valley, God’s strength combined with their faith led to an epic victory.
God loves you, but He doesn’t need you. And that isn’t harsh news—it’s freedom. No matter how deep the valley, no matter how big the army you’re up against, He’s not waiting for you to build some spiritual muscle in order to handle that challenge. He already has the strength. All He needs if for you to have faith in Him—whether He’s calling you to face it or walk away.
Gideon wasn’t the only warrior who God sent seemingly outnumbered into battle. In the war for our souls, God sent His Son Jesus to take down humanity’s greatest enemy. Jesus went into the valley alone, voluntarily laying down His life, taking the punishment we deserve, so we could claim His victory over death as our own. This is how strong our God is. Nothing can stand up to Him. Not even death itself.
Claire Gibson is a writer whose work has been featured in publications including The Washington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine among many others. An Army kid who grew up at West Point, New York, Claire is currently growing roots in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Patrick, their son, Sam, and their dog, Winnie. Her debut novel, Beyond the Point, will be published next year.