Read Judges 6:36-40
I was playing an intense game of Scrabble the other day with my daughter. She won. I still had several letter tiles left at the end of the game. Every letter counts. The letter “F” is worth four points and as a two letter word, can be paired with an “I”.
How can two small letters imply such emotion? If. Speak it aloud. Just hearing the word digs up doubt, uncertainty, and longing. This simple conjunction, connecting two phrases, is conditional. An “if” statement, usually followed by a “then” statement, is part of a cause and effect. It requires certain terms to be met.
Gideon, a man of fear, was not too fearful to question God. He was an “if” man and wanted to understand God’s conditions. We see this over and over in Judges 6 and 7. Then Gideon said to him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about… (6:13) So Gideon said to Him,
“If now I have found favor in Thy sight, then show me a sign that it is Thou who speakest with me.” (6:17) Then Gideon said to God, “If Thou wilt deliver Israel through me, as Thou hast spoken, behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that Thou wilt deliver Israel through me, as Thou hast spoken.” (6:36,37)
Prior to each of these “ifs” of Gideon’s, he had received a promise from God. But it appears that his doubts progress with each promise. God provided Gideon the sign for which he asked, saved his life from those who wanted to kill him and empowered him with His Spirit and still Gideon wasn’t convinced. Gideon allowed his “ifs” to overpower God’s “thens”. God patiently and mercifully produced for Gideon, showing time and again that His word was trustworthy, but Gideon didn’t believe.
Thomas had a lot in common with Gideon. He also was an “if” man. Following His resurrection, Jesus appeared to all his disciples except Thomas. Thomas said to them “If I don’t see the marks of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!” (John 20:25 HCSB) Thomas needed proof. Gideon had proof. But still doubt overpowered.
Just like Gideon and Thomas, I have seen the evidence of God’s love, faithfulness and deliverance, yet still doubt His goodness. As uncertain circumstances arise, I find my mind jumping to “ifs,” rather than trusting God who is sovereign and in complete control. Jesus provided the proof Thomas required and told him to stop doubting and believe. He is saying the same to each of us. No conditions, just trust. No “ifs”. After all, at the end of the game, you don’t want to be left with just two tiles, “I” and “F”.