On Winning Battles

In Judges 6-7, the Israelites are in trouble, once again. They’ve turned their back on God and have disobeyed his commands. They’ve been under the control of the evil Midianites for seven years, and they’ve had enough. At least, that’s what they say. But the Midianites are very evil and are so cruel, that the Israelites hide from them in mountains, caves and other strongholds. When the Israelites plant their crops, their enemies attack them and destroy their crops. Their oppressors leave them with nothing to eat. They’re reduced to starvation. So they cry to the Lord for help.

The problem isn’t that their enemies are strong. It’s that the Israelites have again disobeyed God. Trouble always finds them when they turn their backs on God’s commands.

One man, who is basically afraid of his own shadow, threshes his wheat at the bottom of a winepress in hopes that his enemies can’t find his food and steal it. Gideon says he is the lowliest person in the lowliest tribe of Israel, and he’s scared of everything.  But God sees him and comes to him in his hiding place. 

When the Lord finds him deep in that winepress, he calls Gideon a mighty hero. But Gideon asks God why he has allowed his people to endure such hardships. He asks why God has abandoned them. God knows Gideon has many fears, but he also knows Gideon’s heart.  He hears Gideon when he asks why God has allowed all the evil to take place.  He hears Gideon’s cries about his people starving and struggling to survive.

God doesn’t rebuke him for questioning.  God doesn’t chastise him for being fearful.  Instead, God empowers him to fight.  He enables Gideon to assemble a small army.  God says a large army would indicate that they won by their own power.  A small army shows that God is the one who led them to victory.  Because there are times in life, we can’t do everything.  We need God to guide us, and the victory is all his.


It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Zechariah 4:6


God didn’t give him attaboys or you got this, man.  No.  God wanted the praise.  God wanted the adoration and commitment. Gideon needed to depend on God’s strength to fight this battle and win.  God led Gideon to defeat the enemies, but it was with God’s power. Not Gideon’s. The victory was not through human strength but from God’s favor and power. After all, God whittled down Gideon’s army from three thousand to only three hundred men. And those few men defeated an army of thousands with the help of God.

Gideon doubted God. He thought his people were in such a bad way because God wasn’t doing his job. But when God showed him that his people’s deliberate disobedience had caused this oppression, Gideon had a change of heart. He saw his countrymen for the sinners they were. In spite of his fears, he saw God’s mighty hand upon him and his small army.

Too many times we try to fight our own battles. We imagine victory at the sound of our sharp words or brute force. But we are weak. We are inadequate. We are fearful. We are human. We can’t fight our own battles. We need God’s help. If we claim to be a child of God, we need God’s strength to fight our battles. And he says he will fight for us.

We don’t have it all together. And God sees our weakness. But he also sees our hearts. And if our hearts are seeking to obey and honor God, he will work with our weakness. He will be our strength. He will be our guide. He will lead us to victory. Oh. The victory may not look as we expect. But victory will be look the way God intended. God ordains all our steps. All our battles. All our losses and victories. They are his. If we are his, we know that obedience is much better than elaborate victories.

Fighting Battles

It wasn’t even my battle.  But I was asked to fight it.  I was asked to fight for someone else’s cause.  It wasn’t a battle that interested me.  Quite frankly, I didn’t even know it was an issue.  It seemed petty once I heard the details.

They wanted certain words to be written to a group of people.  They wanted the sentence worded in a certain way, but they didn’t give me the words to say.  Or the authority.  They just said, “Don’t say it like this”…  They told me how not to say it.

It felt odd fighting someone else’s battle.  I was caught in the middle.  No matter what happens, I wouldn’t be the winner.  It was a very uncomfortable position to be in.  If I’m facing a battle, I prefer to fight my own.  Not a battle I don’t believe in.  I know what my goals are.  I know what my strengths and weaknesses are.  I can’t read someone else’s mind to know how they want their battles fought.

I’ve been asked to fight other battles.  Sometimes it’s a war of words.  Sometimes it’s actions. Sometimes it’s inaction.  Nevertheless, it seems there’s always a battle.  And never mine.  It wasn’t mine to fight.  It wasn’t mine to win or lose.

I’ve wondered what those on the other side of the battle think of me.  Do they recognize that I’m the pawn in the game?  Did they realize my words and actions are sometimes led by the fighter?  I’m only the messenger.  Am I just being manipulated?

My advantage was that I could set the tone.   The “fight” doesn’t have to be nasty.  Perhaps the messenger is the most important soldier.  Trying to please both sides while remaining neutral.  Nevertheless, I was still in the fight.  I wasn’t the general.  I was the messenger.  But does it really matter?  If I’m associated with the fight, am I then a fighter?  I was recruited rather than enlisting on my own.  That only matters at the beginning of the fight.   Right?  Once the fight begins, you’re in.

There’s a difference between picking a fight and facing a hardship.  Getting even or getting your way is picking a fight.  Facing a hardship or loss is a battle.  We pick our fights but battles are another story.  It seems that way, at least.


You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you. Deuteronomy 3:22


It isn’t in my nature to pick fights.  But I have seen my fair share of battles.  Battles I wouldn’t choose, but they come regardless.  Hardships and trials are battles that must be fought.  They require courage, prayer and faith to see victory.  I can’t fight these battles alone.  I’ve chosen not to.  I know a mighty warrior who fights all my battles.

This mighty warrior has fought battles for many others.

I think of the battle he fought for the people of Israel.  Moses was their leader.  The mighty warrior fought hard.  He brought the ten plagues to the Egyptians when their leader wouldn’t obey.  In the end,  this mighty warrior won.  He delivered his people from a tyrant.

I think of four men.  Daniel.  Shadrach.  Meshach.  Abednego.  All four men were captured and forced to serve a king they didn’t agree with. Yet they remained faithful to their God.  The God who created the universe.

Daniel didn’t waver from his beliefs or daily habit of praying to the only God.  Even when his life was in danger.  Even when others meant harm, God did good.  When Daniel was in the lion’s den, this mighty warrior calmed the lions so they didn’t harm Daniel.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into a furnace when they wouldn’t bow down and worship their king.  The furnace was so hot that the flames killed the soldiers who threw them in.  Yet these three men survived.  They weren’t burned.  At.  All.  They walked out of the furnace.  Fully alive and well.  The mighty warrior fought for them.  He saved their lives.

I turn to this same mighty warrior when I have battles that need fought.

This mighty warrior will fight our battles.  God is this mighty warrior.  God fights for us.  The Bible says he does that in many different ways.  He knows our thoughts.  He knows our strengths and weaknesses.  He knows our temptations.  He knows the battle is coming before we even feel the first punch.  He knows who he’s fighting.  He knows how to fight them.  He doesn’t fight dirty, but he does fight to win.