It is tempting in these times to retreat to dens and caves to protect ourselves and what we have from all the evil forces arrayed against us. We learn daily of new ways big tech companies pervade the land and attempt to control us through what they surreptitiously extract from us.
The biblical Gideon (Judges 6-8) faced something similar ages ago. The Midianites had covered the land and extracted from the Israelites all of their harvest, the fruit of their labor. The only way to survive was to "go off the grid" and to hide their harvest in dens and caves.
One day as Gideon was covertly threshing his wheat to keep it from the enemy, an angel appeared to him. The angel addressed him in an amazing manner. "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor." And the angel went on to say that Gideon was to deliver the Israelites from the Midianites.
Gideon vigorously protested: "My family is the least in the tribe of Manasseh. and I am the least in my family, so how in the world could I ever deliver my people from such an overwhelming enemy?"
In addressing Gideon, the angel called Gideon, a man of valor. The Hebrew word for valor is chayil . Chayil is defined as "the courage to do what you are afraid to do." As the story progresses, Gideon was continuously fearful. He destroyed his Father's idols at night because he was afraid of his family and fellow townsmen. He asked God for a sign and laid out the fleece for God to manifest Himself because he was fearful.
God did not scold him for his fears and uncertainties but continually supplied encouraging evidence of His love and provision. God encouraged Gideon to go down into the enemy's camp in the middle of the night so he could hear enemy soldiers discussing a dream one of them had had. And the listening soldier prophetically responded to his comrade, "Your dream means that Gideon is going to destroy us."
As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshipped God. Then he rose up with the courage to do what he was afraid to do. By the Holy Spirit's power, he became the mighty man of valor, the man of chayil, the man with the courage to do what he was afraid to do. And he led the small band of his fellow tribesman in the total rout of the Midianite army.
The word chayil is used at some unexpected places in the Bible. Chayil is the word used for virtuous in the account of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31. This passage begins with "who can find a chayil woman." The passage describes a woman who has the courage to commit to her family, her husband, and children and build them up in every way and make them strong and prosperous. She does this because she has chayil, the courage to do what she may be afraid to do or feel unable to do. Her husband and her children rise up and bless her because of her chayil.
In the book of Ruth, Boaz says to Ruth. You have the reputation of being a woman of chayil (valor).
Habakkuk 3:19 states: "The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights." You guessed it. The Hebrew word for strength is chayil. "The Lord is my chayil." He enables me to take on challenging and even frightening tasks courageously.
One of the signs of the Holy Spirit's presence in our lives today is chayil, the courage to do what we're afraid to do. Peter was afraid to confess his faith in Christ in front of a servant girl at the crucifixion time. But after the Holy Spirit came upon him, he had chayil, the courage to do what he was afraid to do. At Pentecost, he boldly faced what could have meant death as he addressed the nation of Israel, calling them to repentance and belief in Jesus Christ as their only Savior.
In Romans 8:11, Paul says, "The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you." That is the Spirit that enables us to face overwhelmingly impossible situations in our lives. It is the courage to face and to step into situations we are afraid to confront in the natural.
Recently I prayed that in my weakness, God would give me chayil.
I felt the Lord say to me: "I am giving you the courage to do what you are afraid to do. I am giving you the courage to advance from a position of great disadvantage, so it's clear that the victory comes from me, the God of heaven. I will be your chayil."
That day I went to the dentist for an early morning appointment. In the course of casual conversation with the dental assistant whom I had never met, I learned that she had a husband and children and that her Father had been pastor of a church in Florida.
I then pondered if I should ask her about her faith and minister to her, but I thought, "No, I won't. She's busy, and I need to get on with my day; besides, I don't want to do it."
But then I found myself saying, "Is faith a part of your life?"
She responded, "No, it used to be, but it's not now for my husband or me."
Then I thought, "Should I ask her to give me a number?" So I asked her to give me a number between 1 and 150. She said 9. I explained that I had asked God to speak to her. I stated that I did not know what number she was going to give me and that she did not know what I would do with the number. But there are 150 Psalms in the Bible, so my prayer was that God would give her a number associated with a psalm that said something He wanted to tell her. So I said to her that neither she nor I had chosen Psalm 9 but that I believed God had.
With trepidation, I turned to Psalm 9. I had no idea if the psalm would speak to her, but I trusted God enough to risk. He gave me chayil the courage to do what I was afraid to do.
Psalm 9 starts with "I will give you praise; I will be filled with joy," and then further in the psalm, it says, "For you have ruled in my favor."
After I read the psalm, she responded, "That's absolutely amazing-- because tomorrow is a very significant day for me." She went on to say that she had had a very difficult childhood and implied that someone in her childhood had abused her and that tomorrow was the court case in which the judge would give his ruling. She indicated that her Father had been hurtful and had not done right by her and that this had made it difficult for her to trust the heavenly Father when her earthly Father had let her down.
At that point, I prayed for her and pronounced a blessing on her that the judge would, in fact, rule in her favor. Her countenance brightened, and faith stirred in her heart.
I realized after this faith-inspiring interaction that God had given me chayil, the courage to do what I was afraid to do.
The biblical Daniel said, "The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action (do exploits)." - Daniel 11:32
So confess your fears and weaknesses to God and trust Him to give you chayil. Then you will be known as a person of valor and virtue, a person who does mighty exploits.
At our Pentecost service yesterday, I had four people introduce the Holy Spirit to the congregation as they have experienced Him. I asked them to tell what life was like before they met the Holy Spirit, how they met Him, and what life has been like now in relating with Him.
Often in life, we encounter difficult situations, challenges that seem impossible, or problems to which we cannot find a solution. What's more, we end up tired and frustrated in our attempts to overcome these obstacles. This leads us to worry even to the point where it affects our relationships and physical health.
I had a dream this morning. I was part of a convention with a breakout session of which I was in charge. I was not prepared; I was not adequate for the topic. I was actually making plans on my way into the convention room as to what I would be saying. I saw people making decisions about where they would go, and I knew that no wise person would choose my session, and anybody who came would be disappointed.