Gideon’s fear shows up clearly during his calling. However, Gideon doesn’t stay wallowing in his fear when God stirs him to battle. Instead, Gideon shows us how to take action in spite of fear with God’s help. Let’s look at Judges 7 to see how God multiplies Gideon’s efforts.
Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.'”Judges 7:1-2 NIV
The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.
Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley. During that night the LORD said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp.Judges 7:7-11 NIV
Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle of the night watch, just after [the Midianites] had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.
When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath.Judges 7:19-22 NIV
Miracle in an Impossible Circumstance
My favorite part of Judges 7 occurs during God’s battle instructions to Gideon. God knows Gideon fears attacking the Midianites with only 300 men. He knows that Gideon needs a lot of coaching and affirmation in order to take action. Beautifully, God incorporates Gideon’s needs into His plan. He sends Gideon to the Midianite camp, where Gideon and Purah overhear two friends discussing a dream that prophesies Gideon’s victory. Gideon returns to the Israelites full of fire and faith in the Lord. Gideon and the three hundred drive out a swarm of invaders by making a lot of noise. That’s a pretty amazing attack plan, in my opinion.
How to Take Action in Spite of Fear
When I searched “how to take action in spite of fear,” the entire first page filled with links to Bhuddist monks and business coaches. While most had some great points about just doing the thing that scared you, the Christian approach teaches that God provides His power behind the action. Unlike Gideon, very few of us have the express commands of God spoken in our ears. However, Gideon acted in accordance with his faith in God, and God blessed that. As we saw with Saul, taking action outside of God’s pre-existing commands doesn’t wind up in blessing. We can’t just kind-of throw our action His way as we go. In contrast, Gideon shows us to act out of obedience to God. When we do, God multiplies our efforts as only He can.
Now, I get mad every time preachers and Christian leaders say, “Just trust God and you will be fine!” The physical aspects of anxiety are more complex than just trusting God. Instead, I hope we can look at Gideon and see how God works with us through our anxiety and fear. For some, just seeking professional help may be the action you need to take in spite of your fear. There is no shame in that! Based on this passage, God will honor your willingness to fulfill His plan for your life by seeking treatment. God doesn’t stop at seeking treatment, either. Since He sees our hearts, He knows when we seek to act out of faith. He will give us courage to take that next step even when we feel afraid. Just as God didn’t leave Gideon to be destroyed by the Midianites, God will support you when you take that first action in faith.