The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” “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)
God seems inclined to use the most unlikely people to advance his cause. Take Gideon for example. He was from a weak tribe and was in the words of one translator, the “runt of the litter”. There was nothing at all heroic about him and yet he is addressed as a mighty hero.
God wants to use him to overthrow the Midianites. Gideon poses an understandable question: why did this same God allow the Midianites to get power over Israel in the first place? God provides no answer. Debating that sort of thing is not the main game. The time has come for a wrong to be put right.
Gideon is the one to do it. He has little or no power of his own. He is the weakest of the weak and yet the term “mighty hero” is applied to him. Given this is not divine sarcasm, the key seems to lie in what is then said. God is sending him on this mission, and he doesn’t make mistakes.
And then God promises to be with him. Our very real human weakness is the opportunity for God to wield his very great power. Perhaps this is why he chooses the weak in the first place. Following Jesus through thick and thin is not reliant on our heroic efforts. It is all about our helpless dependence on the presence of God to help us pursue his purposes.
The God who calls us to do the apparently impossible thing is the God whose powerful presence makes the impossible possible.