The Antidote for Fear
But the Lord said to [Gideon], “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” Judges 6:23
Gideon knew all about fear. He lived during a tumultuous time in Israel’s history. Scripture tells us that “the power of Midian was so oppressive,” the Israelites lived in “mountain clefts, caves, and strongholds” (Judges 6:2). And every time an Israelite farmer planted a crop, enemy marauders “camped on the land and ruined the crops … and did not spare a living thing for Israel” (6:3–4).
So, in addition to fear, Gideon knew hunger and anger and desperation. When we meet him in Judges 6, he is threshing wheat in a winepress, hoping to hide his grain from the Midianites.
Then the angel of the Lord arrives and commissions Gideon to fight. Was Gideon elated? No. His response is laced with frustration and hopelessness: “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” Gideon concludes, “The Lord has abandoned us” (v. 13).
Is the Lord offended by Gideon’s accusations? No. In fact, as the story of Gideon unfolds in the following chapters, God demonstrates his compassion and patience with the reluctant warrior again and again.
Realizing that he’s talking to God, Gideon’s heart swells with fear. He’s certain he will die (v. 22). But God calms him with one word: “Peace.” And the word resonates so loudly in Gideon’s soul that he builds an altar and calls it Yahweh Shalom, The Lord Is Peace.
Our world is also filled with oppression, fear, hunger, anger, and desperation. But that doesn’t mean God has abandoned us any more than he had abandoned the nation of Israel. For those, like Gideon, who are willing to take their angst to God and speak it boldly, honestly, and loudly, God says, “Peace.”
With that one word, God can calm any heart because His presence brings peace—the peace, the apostle Paul says, that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). God’s peace filled Paul’s prison cell with hope; God’s peace transformed Gideon the fearful into Gideon the fearless.
What’s gnawing at your soul today? Speak to God honestly. Unload your feelings. Let him fill you with his peace.
Read the conversations between God and Gideon in Judges 6:11–24, 36–40. How does God demonstrate love and patience with Gideon? How has God demonstrated his love and patience with you lately?
Read Philippians 4:4–13. What does God promise us when we feel anxious? What must be our mind-set according to these verses?
Denise K. Loock
This devotion is part of our “Do Not Be Afraid” series.