In the original 1977 movie, Star Wars, there is a scene which parallels a powerful spiritual truth. The main character, Luke Skywalker is aboard the Millennium Falcon on his way to the planet Alderaan with Obi-Won-Kenobi.
During their journey Obi-Won has Luke practice his lightsaber skills against a small practice drone. Luke gets discouraged as the drone gets the better of him – stinging him with small laser beams. Then, instead of making it easier for Luke, Obi-Won puts Luke at an even greater disadvantage against the drone. He places a blast helmet over Luke’s head which completely obstructs his view. “But with the blast shield down, I can’t even see. How am I supposed to fight?” Luke protests. Obi-Won tells him, “Your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them.” Luke resumes his fight against the drone and defeats it.
While it’s not a perfect allegory, the spiritual lesson to be gained from this scene is this. As our Ultimate Spiritual Trainer God often puts us at a disadvantage amidst our trials and spiritual battles. He places the blast shield over our eyes so that we don’t even have a fighting chance. And it drives us crazy.
We may be facing a crisis, a trial, an opponent, or a court case. Maybe we’re battling an illness. But we seek every advantage possible against our problem. We try our best to resolve the situation by all available means. We desperately pray to God for the situation to improve.
But instead of getting better, the situation deteriorates exponentially. God seems to deliberately allow our circumstances to go from bad to worse. He seems to leave us utterly defenseless. What in the world is going on?
The Bible gives us insight into the Lord’s dealings with us. God is simply doing what it takes to make us trust in Him more and trust in ourselves less. The biblical story of Gideon is the foremost example of this. God called Gideon to deliver Israel from the hand of the Midianites who were oppressing the people. Now, Gideon already felt inadequate for this job and it required a lot of encouragement on God’s part to get him to obey.
But just when things began to look up, God put Gideon at a terrible disadvantage. At its best, Gideon’s army only numbered 32,000 men, yet he was still outgunned four to one. The combined forces of the Midianites, Amalekites, and eastern tribes numbered 135,000. Yet God told Gideon his army was too big. He had to shrink it down, otherwise Gideon might be tempted to claim victory by his own strength. So God ordered Gideon to tell his men, “If anyone is afraid to fight, then let him return home.” This action reduced his army from 32,000 to 10,000.
Then God told Gideon his army was still too big. So he further disadvantaged him. He brought his thirsty 10,000 to a river and had them drink. Of the 10,000, only 300 exercised the restraint to bring the water to their mouth with their hand. All the others put their mouths directly into the river to drink. “Choose these 300,” God told Gideon.
At this point it’s typical of God’s servants to ask, “God, whose side are you on, anyway? You’re empowering my enemy and weakening me. I’m trying to win this battle and—so it seems—You’re trying to ensure my defeat.”
Yet God has a very good reason for what He’s doing. He’s forcing us to trust Him more and ourselves less.
It’s just like Paul the apostle said, “When I am weak, then I am strong” for “God’s strength is made perfect in human weakness” (2 Cor. 12:7–10). God is always in the habit of choosing the weak to overcome the strong—so that no one may boast before God (1 Cor. 1:26–30).
And sure enough, Gideon’s 300 soldiers completely destroyed the Midianite force of 135,000. By faith in God, Gideon was transformed from weakness into strength (Heb. 11:32–34).
So, if you are facing a fearsome challenge, do not be discouraged if circumstances deteriorate, if they go from bad to worse. God is not your enemy. He is only allowing you to become weak so that He can make you victorious by His strength. This will increase your faith in Him and draw you more closely into His embrace.
Dear Father in heaven, please calm my troubled heart and fortify my faith in You. Remind me of Your faithfulness to all the saints of old and how You made them victorious against impossible odds. Amen.