Gideon’s Army, The Book of Judges
When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, he sent them a prophet who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”
A Cloud of Witnesses
You’ve taken the first step by praying to God to help you escape and then exposing the abuse to friends and relatives. It wasn’t until I finally spoke up about what was happening in my home; the Lord said to expose the deeds of darkness. We all have a cloud of witnesses, especially Christians because nonbelievers watch and wait for us to fall. They say things like, “I thought they were perfect.” Some will cheer you on and encourage you, while others remark behind your back that you will go back; unfortunately, some want to see you fail. Yet, in your presence, they clearly say that they were for you, but after you take the next step out, you quickly learn who was really for you and wonder if you’d made the right decision. Your cloud of witnesses among family and friends slowly evaporates, leaving you with a few faithful friends or family members you can count on. However, please don’t get discouraged; we also have a cloud of witnesses in heaven; your loved ones who had gone before you and suffered as you did are cheering you on because you are determined to break the cycle for the generations after you. Whenever someone shares a small step of their recovery with me, such as being assertive, my heart becomes so overwhelmed with joy I can’t contain it. I dance and lift my hands, praising the Lord. I feel the joy of heaven within me.
When the Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” “Pardon me, my Lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
Judges 6:12-13 NIV
A Few Good Men
After leaving an abusive spouse, I learned quickly that not everyone is for victims of abuse, which was devasting until I knew that God had the right people on my path at the right time to fulfill His provisions for me in my time of need on my new journey.
I felt the same as Gideon; I told myself, did the Lord deliver me out of Egypt to abandon me? Why did my son die? Why did I lose everything? Why did some of my family members abandon me? I asked more questions; however, I saw God’s hand moving in my life, removing some from me. And I also realized the sin of ignorance within myself (Proverbs 14: 18). No one likes to be called ignorant. Still, we are all unaware of many things, such as unknowingly worshiping false gods, because we followed the patterns of our ancestors instead of listening to God. I saw my patterns and those of my ancestors and realized the generations after me, men and women, will remain victims. The Israelites were oppressed because they worshipped false gods, so God turned them over to the Midianites because they did not listen to God. Gideon’s name also means, ‘Cut Down.” The Angel of the Lord told Gideon to cut down the idols in the land, such as the idol Baal; Gideon worshipped these idols as well, but He obeyed the Lord and cut down the idols while everyone slept at night; he feared his family’s rebuke, or punishment.
Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’
Some friends or family members told me they would pray for me. Well, that would seem innocent enough, right? However, the Holy Spirit revealed to me quickly that some prayed to other gods, not God, Jesus Christ, and if I were delivered, they would say their god answered their prayers for me. Others, who helped me, who did not pray to YAHWEH, would say they saved me, thus taking the glory for themselves. So, instead of posting prayer requests randomly to everyone I know, I contacted a few trusted friends to seek the LORD prayerfully for me. Also, Years ago, my best friend and I started a group at our church called Prayer Partners. She and I partnered through phone communication once a week and prayed for our families, church, leaders, etc. When I moved, the ministry dwindled, not because of me but because of many other factors. We continue to pray for each other sporadically. However, we are committed to seeking the Lord prayerfully once a week to pray for the saints, their children, and their offspring. Although the battlefield is different for all of us, we all have the same enemy, and he is out to devour God’s beloved.
Trusting God After Spiritual Abuse
I struggle with the fear of the unknown, and like Gideon, I need to see the blueprint before moving forward; I know this may seem like I am not walking by faith, but God knows our hearts, and He is a loving and compassionate God. I immediately saw how Gideon asked God to prove He was, in fact, GOD. Spiritual abuse causes victims to doubt the word of God; the effects of gaslighting damage our perception. Some friends and family members operate on fear, and instead of helping us grow, they stunt our growth by saying things like, “Are you sure God told you this or that, or how are you going to do this or that.” Doing so adds more seeds of doubt, while others place invisible cages around us. Yes, we need to discern the spirits prayerfully. For instance, ask God if this person is basing their recommendation on the nature of fear. Ask the Holy Spirit to surround you with men and women of faith in Him and people who can help you overcome your fears and anxieties and support you during your growth process. You will be surprised by the magnitude of people who walk away.
Mighty Men of Valor
When the Angel of the Lord visited Gideon, Gideon was threshing the wheat in the winepress to hide it from the enemy. The Midianites, the Almakites, and the people from the East came and destroyed and devoured everything the Israelites produced for sustainability, leaving the Israelites impoverished. Also, Gideon was no match for them and described himself to God as the least of his brothers and the least of his community. Yet, the Lord called Gideon a mighty man of valor. So, I think Gideon, like David, was hidden because they weren’t as strong or valued as their brothers, according to their fathers and community standards.
Abuse victims are considered weak and undervalued by family, friends, religious beliefs, and even authorities because they think we are rebellious or choose to be victims; it’s not true. There are countless reasons people stay stuck. However, God can make good what our enemy meant for evil. Gideon’s name means Great Warrior; he probably didn’t feel much useful to God or his community; they lived in fear and worried about their safety. Warriors train themselves through hardships. King Saul also tracked David and forced David into hiding, but God sent others, they were considered nomads, and while they were in hiding, they trained and became mighty men of valor.
Likewise, I went into hiding but was not alone; the Lord brought people, even strangers, to house and financially help me. God sends others to help us and trains us to be survivors and mighty men and women of courage, and we are called to help others. For months, I felt the sting of rejection; however, when people started calling and sharing their stories of abuse with me, I felt refreshed because I was not alone in my suffering; it was not in vain. My heart broke for the older women who suffered silently for over fifty years, some died, and others were released when their abusive spouse died. I listened to their stories; they needed to be heard and shared great wisdom with me. God used their wisdom from their suffering to help me and my suffering to help others. They did not gaslight me, nor did I gaslight them because I lived in a beautiful prison myself. Survivors suffer years under the affliction of their abusers, and outsiders call us stupid for staying, but we are NOT stupid.
Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ ” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. But the Lord told Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” So Gideon took the men down to the water. The Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel to drink.” Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.
Judges 7:1-9 NIV
Gideon gathered thirty-two thousand men to fight against the enemies of Isreal and maybe thought this would be an easy battle, with God’s word; He would hand over the enemy. But God knows the hearts of men; He removed twenty-two thousand men instantly because they were consumed with fear. Likewise, I thought so; I come from a huge family, including relatives and a small group of friends. However, I learned quickly, as each member began dwindling from me, that God was removing some from me because some would have hindered me because they were consumed with fear, some feared for my life, and others feared for their lives because my ex stalked me, and who knows what he would have done. Some tried to talk me into going back to what I called my death camp because they didn’t believe my story. I detached myself from some easily because of the toxicity and had enough surgeries.
My perpetrator/s convinced most of my family and friends I was insane, so I learned quickly not to trust everyone; I gave them crumbs to satisfy their thirst for gossip; the Lord calls these kinds of people murderers. Sometimes I was tongue-tied and could not tell my story; I thank the Lord for those times because later, I learned they were gossiping behind my back. The Lord told Gideon to take the remainder men down to the water. The ones who lay down and drank the water to satisfy their thirst let them go. Some people thirst for gossip; flying monkeys gather information from you and return it to the abuser; they are just as bad because they endanger you and your loved ones; be as gentle as a dove and wise as a serpent. My youngest daughter is a Therapist; she directed me to study Behavioral Health; this was the beginning of my awakening. The ones who cupped the water and lapped like a dog were to be trusted. Why? They hold you closely, drink your words compassionately, without judgment or condemnation, and keep your secrets in fear of the Lord; they don’t weaponize them by slandering you, spill your integrity carelessly, and protect you. Trust is not easily given. Also, like the Midianites, Amalekites, and other Eastern people, some men conformed to their ways; because of the scarcity, they devoured everything as though it was their last meal. Sadly, many abuse victims suffer lack because of financial abuse by their abuser; this is not only men financially abusing women, but women abuse men by overspending or adding the responsibilities of others upon them. Or grandparents being financially abused by grandchildren, the elderly being financially abused by siblings or their grown children, and on and on. My eyes were wide open! When I tried to get a divorce in 2011, I was told that my ex could file for alimony. I was the hunter, and he was the gatherer and kept me in debt. I decided to go back and stay well, but eventually, my health began deteriorating because he consumed everything out of me.
An Officer and a Gentleman
Last, I’ve learned so much from honorable service men and women who keep us safe and are the kindest, wise, and most compassionate on my journey and who showed me what godliness looks and acts like. Now for me, I want an action-packed man! My uncle served in the Navy as a photographer in Vietnam; you can see his works by googling John Betancourt. My brother-in-law is a Green Baret; fortunately, he got me out safely and under the wings of my son and daughter-in-law. My sister and I have a lot of funny stories about this situation. However, it was pretty intense for all of us at the time. Also, My childhood trauma often ambushes me through certain people, thus causing a storm of anxiety within me even now, and I can be pretty hard on myself. My Coach, a lifelong officer in the Military, a Marine, Army Ranger, and now a Clinician, I am honored to know them all. My coach challenges me in spiritual training; he has been productive in my growth by recommending books such as Internal Family Systems Therapy by Richard C. Schwartz & Martha Sweezy, which I am reading now, and Healing Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors by Janina Fisher, and several other books in the Library Page.
The Lord told Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped, I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others. Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley. That night, the Lord told Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I will give it into your hands.
Three Hundred Men
After all the others were dismissed from duty, only three hundred men were left; now, let’s go into the battlefield, said the Lord, and God gave them victory over their enemies. It doesn’t matter how many soldiers God enlists on our behalf if we follow Jesus Christ, the Commander and Chief of the Lord’s Army. Or what kind of battlefield we are experiencing; we all have the same enemy, and his objective is our soul, the souls of our children, and their offspring. If the Lord removes people from your life either temporarily or permanently, it is for your or their good. By understanding this, I no longer have resentment or bitterness in my heart for those who walked away. I am grateful to them for the time they gave me, and I am grateful to the Lord for protecting me from most. Some chapters must end so that new ones can begin. I’m ready for a new chapter!