“Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.” 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 Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” The Lord said to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.” (NLT)
It seems we are not promised an easy life as followers of Jesus. We are not promised a trouble free passage in life, free of cancer or divorce or pain. It seems there is one basic promise, illustrated here with Gideon, and expressed often enough in the New Testament.
The promise is that God will be with us no matter what. We don’t know what circumstances will challenge us in the future, but we do know we will not face them alone. God will not always let us circle around setbacks, but he will always accompany us through them.
Gideon expresses something of this. He poses the question: if God is with us, how come terrible things have happened to us? It is interesting he receives no answer. It seems God’s ongoing presence has not shielded them from trouble, and we know that they brought some of that trouble on themselves.
When God promises Gideon he will be with him, he is not promising easy victory. Gideon goes into fierce battles. It seems God is not guaranteeing him bloodless victory, but ultimate triumph. Which is what we experience too. The bottom line promise is not absence of danger, but the presence of God in the midst of that danger.