Our fragile faith

(Click here for a video of John reading this Catch.)


This is one of the more well-known parts of the story of Gideon. If you went to Sunday school as a kid, or even if you didn’t, you probably have heard of the story of the fleece. We even have a popular idiom about what to do if you’re not sure about a particular decision you have to make, you should “put out a fleece.” 

As the inevitable confrontation with their enemies grew closer, Gideon became increasingly anxious about making sure that God was going to be with him. The numbers were alarming. The Midianties and their allies who were readying for battle in the valley below the hill country where the children of Israel were hiding, numbered 135,000 men. And Gideon would never have more than 32,000, though he would end up with less — much less. 

It’s no wonder Gideon was a little worried and wanted to make sure God had done His math. So he devised a way that God could assure him of His presence. Remember, God had told Gideon when He called him, “I will be with you.” That shoul.d have been good enough, but Gideon, like us, is human and still doubting. So he put a fleece  of wool out one night and asked God to prove He was God and still with him by making the fleece wet with dew overnight and the ground around it, dry. And the next morning, Gideon wrung a bowlful of water out of the wool while the ground was totally dry. Then the next night, Gideon said, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.” Which is exactly what God did.

Gideon was walking a thin line here. The scripture says in Deuteronomy 6:16 and quoted by Jesus to the devil in the wilderness in Luke 4:12, “You must not test the Lord your God.” So God is being extremely patient and gracious with Gideon here, and that is good to know with all our struggles with doubt and unbelief. “For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust” (Psalm 103:14).

This is not a story that teaches us how to find out God’s will, or test whether the Lord is with us. Some people will try all sorts of things to determine God’s will for a big decision, turning any number of things into make believe “fleeces” (make this or that happen). This is not seeking the Lord; it is superstition. But it is a story that shows us how God understands our weakness and is gracious and patient with our fragile faith. He remembers that we are only dust.


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3 Responses to Our fragile faith

  1. Sandie says:

    I’ve often said that God cuts us more slack than we are willing, or even able, to give ourselves when we struggle. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for us to cut some slack for others. You can’t give away what you haven’t received. Grace.

  2. Toni Petrella says:

    Thank God each day he is understanding with our sometimes fragile faith and still always there for us. I cannot imagine any day without our Lord and Savior.

  3. Markus says:

    It could very well be that Gideon was not testing God but rather his own sanity in order to see whether he lost his mind, or whether he really was talking to God. If I am right then I cannot see anything even remotely sinful about this, because let’s be honest, there are plenty of cases in history where self-proclaimed prophets should have questioned their own sanity before acting and preaching in public. If this was really Gideon’s motivation then I see humbleness in it. Lots of it.

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