In the face of extreme adversity, it is human for us to feel a sense of fear. It has either hindered men from many tasks or has pushed them towards accomplishing something great. In exploring the difference between these two outcomes, I would like to quote a line from former U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the assessment that something else is more important than fear”. In this statement, it can be assumed that the difference between being crippled by fear or overcoming it lies in that “something” that was mentioned by Roosevelt.
Delving deeper into this thought, we shall examine a very familiar case in the book of Judges. It was the time when the Israelites were driven into hiding by the Midianites was when the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and gave him a message that he has been chosen of the Lord to save Israel. As we can observe in Gideon’s reply, we can deduce fear was present in his heart. Parking this thought for a moment, we shall explore the perspective of Gideon and what could have triggered this fear.
When he is first mentioned in Judges 6:11, he is introduced as the son of Joash the Abiezrite who also happens to worship Baal, the pagan god of the Midianites. And somehow Gideon knew that in taking the mantle that the Lord handed to him, it would mean he would have to go against Baal, which would mean that he would have to go up against his own father as well. Looking at it on a general perspective, family holds a lot of significance to each person. As sentient beings, the family is at the core of the relationships we build because this is the unit where we learn to establish relationships in the first place. Given this scenario, you can really empathize with Gideon on why this fear allowed him to hesitate on the Lord’s calling.
Another factor we can see is when we look at verse 15 where Gideon states that, “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” This may have been the possible trigger for that fear yet. When we start to doubt ourselves, this is where that fear can be crippling. It can grab a hold of your mind and heart and keep you in a standstill. Because whatever we put in our minds becomes the reality that will affect our behavior, which will directly affect the result we will get.
However, given all the insurmountable odds that was stacked on Gideon, we all know how his story ends. He was able to lead the army of the Lord and he became one of Israel’s greatest judge. He found the courage to do what was needed. Going back to Roosevelt’s quote that courage is not the absence of fear but rather the assessment that SOMETHING ELSE is more important than fear. I would like to believe that the “something else” mentioned is the knowledge that God is with us. The knowledge of knowing the God is the source of our courage. And the knowledge that God is IN control no matter what our situation may be. That knowledge is that “something” that is MORE important than any fear life will throw our way. Putting it all together, as children of the Lord, we are given assurance that we go through life courageously because our God is with us.