Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 108; 150, Judges 6:1-24, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, Mark 3:20-30
Like many heroes of Israel, Gideon had a humble beginning. Because the Israelites had begun to worship foreign gods, for seven years the Lord allowed the Midianites and other peoples to raze the crops and livestock of Israel: “They and their livestock would come up […] as thick as locusts; neither they nor their camels could be counted; so they wasted the land as they came in.” Gideon’s family threshed their wheat in a wine press to hide it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared and told him he would be Israel’s new champion, Gideon was skeptical: “But sir, how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” The Lord assured Gideon that – with the Lord at his side – he would be victorious.
Gideon came from a long tradition of underdogs chosen by God (Abraham, Joseph, and Moses to name a few) and many more would follow. What is it God loves about an underdog?
Underdogs are humble. Life has taught them personal strength isn’t always enough. It takes real humility to submit ourselves to God’s will; a person who is used to success on their own terms can find that submission difficult. We have to recognize and admit to our “weaknesses” before they can really become opportunities for God’s strength to shine.
The victory of an underdog is a real testament to faith in God’s power. Had the roles of David and Goliath been reversed, and Goliath been Israel’s giant champion, it would have been just another story of might makes right. When we follow God, right makes might.
Over and over scripture teaches us God has a love of the disenfranchised. The Mosaic Law has numerous rules about treating widows, orphans, and foreigners with compassion. Jesus taught constantly about loving the poor. The prophets tell us Israel fell from God’s favor when the people became satisfied with themselves and ignored the needy. Holy underdogs are a continuous reminder that God’s justice is not about acquiring what we deserve, but about serving others in need.
Comfort: Whether you feel like a champion or not, God loves you as one.
Challenge: In the coming week, watch the news for examples of true underdogs who have accomplished something important of noble. Can you see the Lord’s influence in their lives?
Prayer: Lord, I thank you for the strength that sustains me even when I am weary and afraid. Amen.
Discussion: Do you have a favorite underdog story?
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