Now the Angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!”
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, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”
Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”
So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
And the LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.” (Judges 6:11-16)
Gideon didn’t think much of himself or his abilities. He belonged to an insignificant family in a small tribe. He was just an ordinary person trying to survive, wondering why God didn’t rescue his people from their dire conditions: seven years of oppression by Midianite raiders who stole crops and impoverished them. The Midianites were descendants of Abraham, one of his sons born to his wife Keturah whom he’d married after Sarah died. The Midianites had sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt (Genesis 37:25-28, 36; 39:1). Moses’ first wife, Zipporah, was the daughter of a priest of Midian (Exodus 2:16; 3:1).
Sure, God had rescued the Israelites from Egypt, but what had he done for them lately? Seemed to Gideon that they had gone from the frying pan to the fire. Slavery was slavery, even if you weren’t in Egypt any more. And while Gideon sort of expected God to raise up a new Moses to save them, the last thing he imagined was that God had chosen him to fill that role.
But God was not dependent upon Gideon’s sense of his own importance, nor was he dependent upon Gideon having enormous faith. God can use whoever he wants, and those he picks are invariably changed as a result. Heroes are made, not born.