I think I can hear the Christians of today had they been placed in the same scenario, "How unreasonable can God be anyway? First He sends us to fight over 120,000 men with an army of 300. Then he has us chase the remaining 15,000 soldiers for 60 miles before engaging them in battle once again. I'm tired. If we keep this up we won't have strength to fight once we get there. Let alone the fact that its another battle of ridiculous odds anyway! Let's just go back. I'm thankful for what God has done, but this isn't necessary. You really think God expects us to do all this? Really? He'll understand. If they come back we will deal with it then. God will understand. Gideon has it all wrong. There is no way God would ask this much. I can't take much more by way of pursuit or battle. God knows that. Its time to turn back. We'll see you next Sunday morning Gideon..."
I do want to say that first of all most Christians aren't faced with anything at all like what Gideon and his men had to do. I also want to say that that really was a tall order. Going to battle so outnumbered twice with a 60 mile jog in between. That's incredible. It seems reasonable to turn back, but Gideon and his men didn't. They were justifiably tired, and weary, and faint, yet they pursued.
I think, probably, two of the most encouraging and challenging truths from the book of judges are found right here. The first is, its ok to be tired. Its ok to be weary. God inspires the writer (traditionally Samuel) to make note of the men's fatigue. God isn't chiding them for it. There is nothing said in judgment regarding this fact. It is just that, a statement of fact. "They were faint." It is certainly understandable. Any one of the three tasks listed in the account would give a person justifiable cause to be tired. The second truth that I think is more challenging than encouraging is the fact that in spite of their fatigue they pursued. That is what genuine trust in God looks like. My senses are telling me one thing, namely that my heart is about to burst, but I have clear direction from God regarding the matter and so I will trust Him with my heart! Now, I will say a key element in that equation is "clear direction from God." Regardless of the fact that probably every muscle in their bodies, their lungs, and brains at this point were probably saying, "You have to stop. You have to rest. This isn't necessary. What are you going to do when you catch them. There is still a large number of them left. Gideon can't be right about this. I don't think I can take much more. It wouldn't be wrong if I quit. God would have to understand. Surely He doesn't expect me to be able to do this. etc..." they continued on. They were "faint, yet pursuing." What an incredible example of what trusting God really looks like. I know I said that once before, but that is exactly what this is. This was a choice between trusting feelings, senses, emotion, the flesh, and trusting God. They trusted God.
How does this apply to us? I think it is pretty obvious. At any given time there are a number of divinely appointed roles for us to fulfill. There is that of a spouse. If you are married, as a man or woman, there are a number of responsibilities that pertain to each role in the home. There is the role of parent. If you have children, the entire upbringing of that child is your responsibility. That is certainly not a passive role. If you are a believer, then there are a number of responsibilities that you inherited with your new life that encompass even the realms of marriage and parenting. There is your walk with God to consider. Your efforts to know God well come into view. Your time to commune with the Lord in prayer. There are your responsibilities to your local New Testament body to consider. There is your role as a witness of Jesus. If you are a friend then that too comes with certain obligations. Not to mention the role of a citizen and employee. All of these roles are detailed and mandated in Scripture. At times it can be absolutely overwhelming. What if God has directed you to college for some purpose on top of all of the other responsibilities on your plate? College demands no small amount of your devotion if we are to approach it as God intended, "with thy might." Perhaps you are teaching a Sunday School class. Perhaps you have some sort of other ministry responsibility that requires the investment of time. All of this and more cries out for our attention, and most of it refuses to wait its turn or acknowledge that we may have other responsibilities with which you may need to be shared. What do you do?
Many Christians pick and choose based on how they feel or based on a personal set of priorities. They simply assume that God couldn't really expect them to do all of these things and so they focus on the ones they think are important, and fit the rest in when they can. They may cut back a bit on church attendance. They may sleep a little later and try to fit their time with Him in somewhere else if possible. They may be hesitant to commit to activities or ministries at church. You notice its never the soccer games or the football practices or the band trips or the work schedule or the social events, or things of that nature that take a cut. No, those are far too important. People make sure they can fit those things in, and they presume that God will understand. After all, once we look at the list mentioned in the preceding paragraph it becomes clear that God wouldn't really expect us to actually do all of that all of the time. No, we will fit in what we can when we can, and God will understand. He knows my heart.
The real question to ask oneself is this, "Do I have clear direction from God?" Does God's Word have anything to say about the content of my life? Probably if we are diligent to search God's Word and simply apply it as we read it, we will begin to see that our life begins to look exactly like the life described in paragraph five. You say, "...but that looks hard. If I devote my attention to all that is in that list, I won't have time to do the things that I want to do!" That is indeed the issue. It is too hard and what about the things I want to do. Sometimes people try to do all that God puts before them and they find it is indeed tiring and hard and demanding. Others can see right off that a life lived for the Lord is going to demand more than they are willing to give. Both need to trust God. Where God's Word has spoken, obey. Leave behind the 'what if's' and follow God. That is what trusting Him or living by faith looks like. Don't believe me? Take a look at Hebrews 11, the entire chapter, and see if you don't find a recurring theme that seems to go hand in hand with this idea of trusting God. It will look like this (I wish I had space to quote each verse): They each had clear direction from God and thus they moved accordingly in spite of contrary or opposing circumstances. By the way Gideon's name is listed there, though there isn't space to include the testimony of his account.
Gideon's men were tired. It isn't wrong to be tired or acknowledge that that is indeed the case. As a matter of fact I don't think you can adequately fulfill your duties as a servant of God in your roles as spouse, parent, church member, friend, employee, citizen, etc... and not feel a good bit of fatigue quite regularly. The simple reality is that a life lived for God is going to be demanding and we are going to get weary, but what we must keep in mind is that we cannot allow that weariness determine what we do and do not do. We all need to approach life from Scripture not approach Scripture from life. We need to empty ourselves of self and let God through His Word fill us up. Many people rob themselves of God's best because they, in the end, determine that the cost is more than they are willing to pay or more than what is reasonable to pay. Doing all that God asks requires too much. I am too weary and must quit. Our actions must be determined by principle and duty not by feelings. Our society as well as our churches are overrun by people that are entirely in bondage to their feelings. There is often no real sense of responsibility. There is virtually no real sense of obligation to anything or anyone other than self! Being tired isn't a sin, but neither is it an adequate reason to shirk ones responsibility. In the end we must strive to trust God with this life, that we might, as Gideon's men, be described as, "faint, yet pursuing." Jesus might say it this way, I think, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant..."