We live in an age increasingly skeptical and even critical of God. It has grown exponentially the area of theology called “Theodicy” - defined online as “the vindication of divine goodness and providence in view of the existence of evil.” Two things have grown this area of theology. First, in this era of connectedness and information flow, we are increasingly aware of the brokenness of our world. There’s bad stuff everywhere. Evil seems to prevail in the news. That’s enough to question things. Secondly, we live in an age where we demand answers and we expect to be able to understand how everything fits and works. That’s what science does, and we’re really good at it. So, how do evil and divine providence co-exist?
It’s not a new question. Gideon asked it when his people - the people of the Promise - were regularly victimized and left destitute by the nasty Midianites. What about everything they’d been taught about God’s promises and providence? About his power and his miracles? Their experience didn’t seem to match their understanding of the promise. So Gideon cries out to God.
In those moments of questioning, we think it ends the story. But that expectation of what is happening exposes our lack of faith. But Gideon has some faith. It’s bending, but he has it. And with that, his question is not the end of the story for him or the Israelites, but it is the beginning. He cries out to God his sense of abandonment that we hear echoed later on a cross. He cries out, and God responds, and the story is of salvation. God’s providential hand shows itself when they’re paying attention.