Summary: A sermon dealing with discouragment in the work of God.
“The Faithful’s Fainting Fits”
Judges 8:4 And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them.
One of the hazards of being in the Lord’s work is that of becoming weary in the work. It is a very common affliction among those that are involved in the work of the Lord. As a matter of fact some of God’s choicest servants have suffered from fainting fits.
Gal 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
2 Th 3:13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.
I. The Cause of Fainting Fits
A. Size and scope of the Work
If we do our homework and a little the math we find that the Midianites and the Amalekites were a formidable force. There were 135,000 warriors mounted upon camels who had terrorized Israel for years.
Jdg 6:5 For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitude; for both they and their camels were without number: and they entered into the land to destroy it.
The work that we are involved in is a great work, a large work and a dangerous work!
B. Scarcity of Consecrated Workers
Notice that when Gideon started he began with an army of 30,000 men. In chapter 7:3 we learn that 22,000 left because they were afraid. In chapter 7:4-7 we learn that an additional 9,700 left because they were clueless! What I mean is that they were not alert, lacking in discernment and therefore more of a hindrance than a help. Sometimes like Elijah we get to thinking that we are the only ones who are serving and God has to remind us that this is not the case at all.
1 Ki 19:18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
C. Self-doubting Ways
As you read through the text there is one thing that stands out. We see fear and insecurity in Gideon over and over again. The Lord had to constantly reassure him and Gideon called on God to provide confirmation of his calling time and again. God did it in chapter 6:21 with the flesh and the unleavened cakes and again in chapter 6:36-40 with the fleece of wool.
“Our work, when earnestly undertaken, lays us open to attacks in the direction of depression. Who can bear the weight of souls without sometimes sinking to the dust? Passionate longings after men's conversion, if not fully satisfied (and when are they?), consume the soul with anxiety and disappointment. To see the hopeful turn aside, the godly grow cold, professors abusing their privileges, and sinners waxing more bold in sin—are not these sights enough to crush us to the earth? The kingdom comes not as we would, the reverend name is not hallowed as we desire, and for this we must weep. How can we be otherwise than sorrowful, while men believe not our report, and the divine arm is not revealed? All mental work tends to weary and to depress, for much study is a weariness of the flesh; but ours is more than mental work—it is heart work, the labour of our inmost soul. How often, on Lord's-day evenings, do we feel as if life were completely washed out of us! After pouring out our souls over our congregations, we feel like empty earthen pitchers which a child might break. Probably, if we were more like Paul, and watched for souls at a nobler rate, we should know more of what it is to be eaten up by the zeal of the Lord's house. It is our duty and our privilege to exhaust our lives for Jesus. We are not to be living specimens of men in fine preservation, but living sacrifices, whose lot is to be consumed; we are to spend and to be spent, not to lay ourselves up in lavender, and nurse our flesh. Such soul-travail as that of a faithful minister will bring on occasional seasons of exhaustion, when heart and flesh will fail. Moses' hands grew heavy in intercession, and Paul cried out, "Who is sufficient for these things?" Even John the Baptist is thought to have had his fainting fits, and the apostles were once amazed, and were sore afraid.” C. H. Spurgeon
Oh, by the way, there is one more bit of irony in this story.
(7:22) When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. Israelites from Naphtali, Asher and all Manasseh were called out, and they pursued the Midianites.