Be calm, do not fear. You shall not die.
Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)
How about looking at Gideon’s story from a different perspective today? Let’s take it as a sort of case study in dealing with anxiety.
Gideon was probably no stranger to worry. After all, he lived in enemy-occupied territory. He wasn’t a prominent member of his tribe either. Just an ordinary man trying to eke out a living. In fact, Gideon’s opening scene is a picture of tense nerves—he’s holed up in a winepress, trying to protect his crops from the Midianites. Later, when God told him to deliver Israel, Gideon understandably fretted over his lack of qualifications. It took three miraculous signs from God to help him overcome all his doubts.
But God was always there to help calm Gideon’s fears. He visited Gideon in his makeshift hideout. Twice he told Gideon, “I am with you.” He patiently gave him all the signs he asked for. By the end of the reading, we see how far Gideon had come: he named his altar “Yahweh-shalom,” meaning “the Lord is peace” (Judges 6:24).
Many of us can relate to Gideon’s struggles with anxiety. Everyone has worries: children, money, health, or a host of other concerns. Many people suffer from severe anxiety and need counseling and medical treatment. But whether our anxieties are major or minor, we can all learn something from Gideon’s story.
First, it’s okay to hide out every now and then. When we feel anxiety rising, we can pause, take a deep breath, and turn our attention to the Lord—even if it’s just for a few seconds. This holy and safe space is always available to us. With a little practice, our “hiding place” can become a momentary refuge where, with the Lord’s help, we gain a new perspective on our concerns.
Next, Gideon’s story helps us stand firm in faith. Even if we can’t feel or hear him, we can trust that God is with us, offering his grace. He is always ready to “speak of peace” with us (Psalm Reponse).
Finally, peace comes when we respond with worship. It’s no coincidence that Gideon’s peace was connected to the act of building the altar. For us, just saying “Thank you, Jesus” or “I love you, Jesus” can go a long way toward settling our hearts.
“Lord Jesus, you are my peace!”
Psalm 85:9, 11-14
Word Among Us