When The Odds Are Against You
- 2006 8 Aug
Do you shrink back in unbelief? Do you become discouraged and disillusioned? Do you give up?
Because of the believer's union with the Overcomer and Conqueror, the Lord Jesus Christ, we can surmount our obstacles. While the nature of our circumstances differ, God has a strategy of victory available for every Christian who faces seemingly devastating problems.
That strategy is blue-printed in the life of Gideon, who was chosen by God to deliver the Israelites from the oppressive hand of the Midianites. Each year, the Midianites ravaged the land and people of Israel. Disobedient and divided, the Israelites cowered in caves; afraid to resist.
When God appointed Gideon to lead the resistance, he was not thrilled about God's challenge. Insecure, he asked God to demonstrate His power through several miraculous signs. Emboldened by God's supernatural affirmation, Gideon gathered about 32,000 soldiers to attack the enemy. As God winnowed the Hebrew army to a mere 300 men to face a Midianite army: “as numerous as the sand on the seashore,” (Judges 7:12) the odds certainly were stacked against Gideon.
The odds may seem as overwhelming in your life. Perhaps your husband has left you. You have three children to raise with no source of income, having worked as a homemaker for 15 years. Perhaps you just lost your job. It is tough to start over again, at any age. But now you have two children in college. Perhaps your doctor has discovered a malignant lump. The prognosis is not favorable - six months or a year to live.
In situations like this, when you do not know which way to turn, what to do, how to act, or what to say - God has a way. Whatever your circumstance, God can help you win; even if your circumstance does not improve. He will sustain and strengthen you as you employ the timeless principles of His Word.
God uses difficult odds to build our faith. The Christian life starts, continues, and ends by faith in Jesus Christ. When our problems overload us, doubt is usually our adversary's advance attack. We question God's wisdom, wonder about His power, and waver in our faith in His promises.
That certainly was Gideon's initial reaction: “Then Gideon said to him, ‘O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about…'” (Judges 6:13).
When the odds are against you, God wants to establish your faith and confidence in Him. He wants you to look to Him for the answer. God understands our tendency to doubt. Even when we are faithless - He remains faithful.
God can only use men and women who place their trust in Him. While we want to develop faith simply by reading about it, biblical faith is best developed when the bottom drops out, when the skies darken; when all of our props are kicked out from underneath us. Then we are helpless and dependent on Him - exactly the condition where He can mold genuine faith.
When the odds are against you, God also may require you to act in what appears an unreasonable manner. The Midianite army apparently consisted of about 135,000 soldiers. God's strategy of attacking this vast encampment with only 300 men must have seemed ludicrous to some. With only 300 men, the Hebrews were out-numbered 450-to-one.
While God may seem to require what appears illogical on the surface, He will never instruct us to disobey His Word. We may not understand His actions, but He has His own divine reasons.
When the odds are against us, God will lead us to do that which brings Him the most glory. Had 32,000 men defeated the Midianites, the Hebrews would have rejoiced in God's deliverance. But when only 300 men routed the enemy, there was no question that God Himself had won the victory. All the praise then belonged to Jehovah God.
God's desire to receive the glory in the situation was evident in His selection process: “[And] the Lord said to Gideon, ‘The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me' '” (Judges 7:2).
God uses the weak to confound the strong. He uses the simple to confound the wise. He uses the obscure man to confound the proud. Why? Because we were created to glorify God.
When God is glorified in our trouble, His reality is clearly demonstrated to others, especially to unbelievers. God's participating presence, love, care, and guidance are openly displayed. When our backs are against the wall; we stagger. The strong grow frail. The confident become timid. But the overwhelming nature of a problem provides the ideal environment for renewed praise and adoration of God. The more successful we are, the greater our danger of failure from a spiritual viewpoint. God uses our inadequacy to bring glory to Him - glory which He will not share with another.
When the odds are against us, God will strip us of all dependence on anything or anyone else other than Himself. God called Gideon a “mighty warrior.” But even a good fighting man knows that he cannot win with 450-to-one odds against him.
God does not want you to depend on your past performance. He does not want you to rely completely on your talents, personality, status, or abilities. He wants you to depend on Him in life's daily battles because it is His plan, purpose, will, and counsel that will ultimately succeed. Confidence is an asset. But God wants us to realize that the source of our confidence is His presence in our lives.
When the mountain of trouble looms large in front of you, God wants you to come to Him for help; for with Him all things are possible. Your skills and determination can accomplish much, but they are no match for God's omnipotence. He brings you to the end of yourself so that you might learn to rely on Him. We must realize that when we are the weakest in our own eyes - we are the strongest in God's.
When the odds are against you, God will send His encouragement. Before his attack, Gideon surveyed the Midianite camp. It is one thing to know there are 135,000 enemy troops, it is another actually to see them with your own eyes. As Gideon returned to camp, he must have been intimidated. At that point, a man related a dream to him that was interpreted as God's sign of victory for the Hebrews. God knew exactly when to encourage Gideon. He also knows how and when to encourage you when adversity peaks.
Just when you are ready to quit, He sends a special verse to your heart, an encouraging call or letter from a friend, or an appropriate message from your pastor. He is sensitive to our needs and emotions; a sympathetic High Priest who comes to our aid in our darkest hour.
Do not despair. Do not give up. God will encourage and strengthen you as you face your dilemma. Cry out to Him and He will answer.
Reviving the faint-hearted is God's specialty. Fortifying weak knees and hearts is His joy. Praise Him for His encouragement. Worship Him for His help that He has promised to provide. As you do, you will encourage yourself in the Lord and your faith will soar.
When the odds are against us, God is always at work in the other camp. The majority of the Midianites actually slaughtered themselves as God routed them in confusion and fear.
Never forget that God is working things out for you by accomplishing His purposes on all sides of your problem. He is at work in the rebellious heart of your teenager, in the board-room of your corporation, or in the home of your neighbor. We are to keep our focus on God - not the problem, not the opposition, not the obstacle - whatever it may be.
Finally, when the odds are against us, God will give us specific instructions for victory. God gave Gideon a game plan; an unusual one consisting of trumpets, torches and jars, but it was the route to victory. God wants to direct you as you grapple with your overwhelming odds.
As you are persistently quiet and dependent on Him, He will order your steps and show you His will. It may take time, but God will lead you into His pathway for success as you steadfastly look to Him - meditating on His Word and remaining submissive to His will.
We defeat ourselves by choosing to handle our problem our way. God's way may be hard, but it is the best way. God's wisdom is accessible through the Scriptures and the illumination of the Holy Spirit. He delights to reveal His truth.
When the odds are against you, remember that God is on your side; seeking your trust, dependence, and obedience.
When you humbly confess your inadequacy and abandon yourself to His sufficiency, the odds dramatically shift in God's favor. And no one or no problem can stand against Him.
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