And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand. And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.
Gideon was facing a big battle against a strong enemy that had oppressed Israel for years, intent on destroying them. Logic and reason would say to amass as large of an army as possible to increase the odds of winning. A wise battle strategy may have been to send as many as possible out to fight in hopes of overcoming the enemy. But Gideon and his army weren’t going out to fight in their own power. God was leading the charge. He was going to gain the victory, and it was all for His glory, so instead of adding more people, He whittles down Gideon’s army before the battle even begins.
Part of the problem was that many of the people Gideon had behind him were fearful and afraid. Often the first thing we must confront when facing a difficult situation is our fear. That is sometimes an automatic response, and it can become overwhelming. But it is important to address our fear since it can hinder our faith and obedience to God. We need full trust and faith in Him to even take the first step toward the battlefield.
In our own lives, God wants to get the glory in all the battles that we face. And sometimes to accomplish that, He takes away some things first rather than adding something in. Sometimes we’ll lack what seems like a necessary resource for the task at hand. It could be something external, like soldiers for a battle, but it could also be some internal characteristic or a personal ability that we just don’t have. But those missing pieces are where God can fill in the gaps and supply His own ability and power to gain the victory or achieve the desired end. Sometimes we do have to lose to win—to be emptied of all that we might rely on in ourselves in order for God to really be able to work and prove Himself faithful. This ensures that He alone can take credit for all that is accomplished.