It’s fitting to find inspiration in some of the Heroes who have emerged in the Hard Times.
The Master’s Program launched in 1997. Now in our 24th year, we’ve weathered multiple storms that could have been game-enders. From ’97 to ’03, the markets experienced gyrations from the collapse of the overloaded tech sector to the aftermath of the 09/11 attacks. Birthed in December of ’07, the Great Recession became an international calamity.
As the longest-running Bull Market in history fostered consumer confidence at all-time highs, the world was blindsided by the catastrophe of the coronavirus and the multi-faceted destruction that is ravaging populations and portfolios around the world. No one – no one – has the crystal ball to see life on the other side of the pandemic…
History is the record of Hard Times, and the leaders who emerged from those conditions to become exemplary proof that widespread woe does not disable the dramatic opportunity for game-changers to break from the pack and lead the way to out-of-nowhere victory.
If we believed in Patron Saints, I would nominate Gideon to fill that position (editors note: for our Catholic friends, patron saints are now-dead humans who are believed to lobby Heaven on behalf of select groups of the living). Talk about the poster kid (more our style than Patron Saints) for leadership emerging from chaos…
Each time we’ve had devastating marketplace scourges that took the air from our lungs and wind from our sails, I’ve found Gideon’s story to be worth retelling. Better than familiar comedy series to binge on Netflix by a long shot; his elevation from frightened farmer to valiant warrior runs for three chapters, from Judges 6 to 8. It’s too good to squeeze into a single page/week; count this Week #1 of a multi-part series that drops into our lives today, with precision.
The story happens against the backdrop of a tragic period in Israel’s history. Between the triumph of the return to the Promised Land under Joshua and the popular demand for a human king that resulted in Saul’s failed administration was a 400-year span called the time of the Judges.
God was their King, invisible but invincible. Their law had been delivered through Moses, inscribed on tablets and in text and perfect in its first version, eliminating any need for a legislative body. Judges were human administrators raised-up by Heaven’s King to focus the attention of the Jewish nation on their God’s will for their life on earth; that model ran for four centuries.
The Judges were not smoothly successive; as one would pass without replacement, the culture would erode and become unfaithful to God. His blessing would be withdrawn, and their national condition would plummet until, in utter despair, they would call out for solace and solution. God would answer with rescue through men and women raised up to restore them to health. Hard Times Heroes…
Deborah had been the Judge of Israel, and God had – through her – granted 40 years of peace. She died, and… “the Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord, and for seven years He gave them into the hands of the Midianites.” (Judges 6:1). That wasn’t just a spiritual funk: their economy and security were destroyed by the marauding Midianites who constantly looted and sacked the Jewish tribes.
The Pivot of Providence begins with God encountering Gideon in an embarrassing position: threshing wheat in a winepress, the action of a coward convinced of his impending destruction by the superior forces with the Reign of Terror over Israel.
God’s greeting to Gideon at his lowest point: “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!” (v 12). Gideon’s response was honest but unfounded: God had let them down (though He hadn’t), and Gideon had no capacity to make a difference (though he did). Who was right?
This is Installment #1 of the Gideon Saga; we’ve got more to explore together. But, before we leave this first scene, face the question: Does God have plans to move you from playing defense in the winepress to leading a comeback – against overwhelming odds – and becoming a Hard Times Hero?
Gideon could have said, “No, thanks.” So can you. What will you say?