Like Gideon, You Can Help Others

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington

Background information on Gideon
After Joshua died, the Israelites wavered in their trust in God. When they started following other gods, one of which was Baal, they had to struggle to maintain their freedom, and eventually ended up oppressed by the Midianites. For seven years, the Israelites hid out in caves and dens in the mountains because the Midianites attacked, destroyed their crops, and took their livestock (Judges 6:1-10).

Along came Gideon, a member of the weakest clan of the twelve tribes of Israel, Manassah, and the youngest of his father's family. In fact, when God sent an angel to tell Gideon that he would free his people, Gideon didn't really think he could do it (Judges 6:11-16). So, Gideon tested God a few times. God, patient with Gideon, answered each request he made (Judges 6:17-25, 36-39).

But God wanted His people to understand that His power was what would truly save them, not weapons, military might, human strength, or their "own hand" (Judges 6:2). God had already had Gideon destroy the altar of Baal. And now, God shaved Gideon's army down from approximately 32,000 to 300 men. With those 300 men, Gideon defeated the Midianites.

Whenever it seems that we are outnumbered, it helps to remember, "One on God's side is a majority."

Be like Gideon and help free others from the oppression of fear, loneliness, loss, or lack. You can do this yourself or with a small group. Thanksgiving is a great time to make a difference:

  • There are some people who are alone. This may be the first Thanksgiving without their spouses. Their families may be gone or may not be able to be with them at the holidays. Others are unable to travel anywhere for Thanksgiving. Some are afraid of being alone. Decide to help these people, even if you don't know them very well.
    • Invite them over to your house for Thanksgiving.
    • If they can't get to your house, ask them what they'd like to do for Thanksgiving. You could bring them a turkey dinner. Or you could cook it there. You could even bring your family over there for Thanksgiving.
  • Other people are even less fortunate: they are at shelters; they have no money; etc.
    • Visit the shelters and take food and clothes.
    • Help out at a soup kitchen.
    • Join or start a food drive.
    • If there's someone in your neighborhood who is less fortunate, buy groceries (you could even buy them a whole Thanksgiving dinner and put it in a cooler) and leave them on their doorstep (when you know they're coming home). It's sometimes best to do this anonymously so they don't feel in your debt.

Make sure you ask your parents for their input about how you can best help others, and check with them about putting these ideas into practice. And remember, these gifts can be given all year long.

You can also make a difference by giving yourselves and others the gift of gratitude:

  1. Write down a gratitude list. Make it as comprehensive as possible. Don't forget to include:
    1. What easily comes to thought;
    2. The things you take for granted;
    3. People, ideas that have influenced you for the good;
    4. Animals, things, countries you appreciate;
    5. God and all He has done for you.
  2. Share your gratitude with others:
    1. Decide with whom you want to share -- family members, friends, teachers, mentors.
    2. Tell them you're grateful for them. Thank them for something they have done for you.
    3. Be specific.
    4. Be sincere.
    5. Notice the response -- how you feel, how you've made them feel, how your gratitude affects your relationship with them.
    6. Make this gratitude sharing a habit.
  3. Read "The Power of Gratitude" to explore the positive effects of gratitude.

Enjoy helping others (and yourself) feel a sense of freedom by giving -- giving them whatever will help meet their needs.