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The “Who, Me?” Syndrome


When I was attending grade school, some of the biggest infractions were chewing gum in class, throwing chalk, and running in the hallways. When caught, most kids were quick to proclaim their innocence. Who, me? was uttered with a feigned look of surprise. One boy was so good at this response that for a time I called him the “who-me kid.” In fact, all sinners are naturally smitten with this syndrome. When confronted with their sin, the default response is almost always, “Who, me?” (No doubt the “Who, Me? Syndrome” will be most evident on Judgment Day.) Thus, when Peter was warned by the Lord regarding his threefold denial, Peter as much as said, “Who, me? Never! Why, I’ll die with You before denying You!”

The “Who, Me? Syndrome” also acts up in another circumstance: when God speaks to us or calls us for a mission. When commissioned directly by God to go to Egypt to deliver God’s people from their slavery, Moses as much as responded, “Who? Me?” And then gave multiple reasons why he could not.

But Moses was not alone in this. 

The sixth chapter of Judges relates another man called directly by God to deliver His people. His name was Gideon, and the Lord’s opening statement to him was remarkable: “And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!’” (Judges 6:12) Mighty man of valor? Who, me? At this point Gideon seemed anything but a mighty man of valor. He was a poor farmer from the weak and undistinguished tribe of Manasseh. He doubted whether the Lord was with him.

Neither at this point had Gideon shown any clear sign of fighting prowess. Yes, he still worshiped the true God of Israel. Yes, he was not sitting idly, but threshing wheat in a wine press so as to hide it from the marauding Midianites. No doubt, he was trying to help feed his people. But mighty man of valor? Who, him?

As it turned out, God knew His man and what He would make of Gideon. This humble man, convinced and strengthened by God, later acted with great confidence and bravery. He not only destroyed an altar of Baal, but put to flight the army of Midian with but three hundred men wielding trumpets and pitchers, and shouting, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” (Judges 7:20) So began the subduing of the Midianites.

Are you a believer still afflicted with this aspect of the “Who, Me? Syndrome”? 

And no, there is nothing wrong with being weak and humble before God, for “God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.”
(1 Corinthians 1:27)

Indeed, through Christ Who is Immanuel (God with us), God has redeemed, justified, and reconciled us. But our flesh questions this. Who, me? By His Spirit He has called and made us His “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people.” (1 Peter 2: 9) Who, us? God wants us to be mighty men and women of valor, strong in the Lord, faithful in His Word, productive and obedient in our service. The Lord knows whom He has chosen and called. We are to know we are His workmanship, what He has graciously made. And while we are only clay pitchers in the Lord’s hand, when He is with us, nothing is impossible. He is our “trusty Shield and Weapon,” against which no enemy can stand.

So let there be no more doubts and excuses, no more procrastination, no more “Who, Me?” questions among us. Let us instead be “Yes, Me!” holy saints, weak in ourselves, but strong in the Lord; humble in our hearts, but mighty in our faith. We can be and are this, because the Lord graciously has so made us!

David Fuerstenau is pastor of Holy Truth Lutheran Church in Ketchikan, Alaska.