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Through It All

"Whatever the case may be, I want to be more like Deborah when it comes to the valleys in my life, taking God at His word." By Kat Armstrong

If generational curses are a thing, my family has one. On one side of my family, people have suffered under the combination of substance abuse and untreated mental illness—and its effects have had a devastating, catastrophic impact on the people I love the most. 

I wasn’t aware that anyone in my family had a problem until I moved into my college dorm room as a freshman and started making friends with whose fathers behaved radically differently from my own. By the time I realized things were not as they should be at home, I was also growing in my newfound faith in Christ. Just two years earlier, I’d become a Christian. The undeniable providence of God’s timing is not lost on me.

Had Jesus not intercepted my life in young adulthood, I fear I’d be another casualty of substance abuse.

Instead of feeling doomed, I received the courage, conviction and confidence––from my relationship with Jesus––to face some of the lowest points in my life and the lowest points of my dad’s life, too. How? It is all grace, really; that I am whole and safe and of sound mind is evidence of God’s tender care for people like me––the kind fated to follow in their families’ footsteps.

Most of the lessons God taught me in my young adult years are now ongoing lessons I have to keep relearning and reapplying in this season of my life. When I want to revisit the core truths God brought to my attention as a freshman at Texas A&M University, I find my way back to the story of Deborah leading God’s people to victory over their enemies in the Old Testament book of Judges.


The book of Judges chronicles the history of God’s people under the rule of judges—Deborah (Judges 4–5), Gideon (Judges 6–8) and Samson (Judges 13–16), to name a few. All these leaders came before the monarchy was set up in Israel.

The book of Judges records the depressing cycle of the Israelites’ rebellion against God. Every time they reject God’s plan, they launch into a downward spiral:

  • rebelling against God by doing what is right in their own eyes
  • falling into oppression under evil foreign powers
  • crying out to God for help
  • being rescued by God, and
  • entering a season of national peace

This cycle continues throughout the book of Judges and only gets worse. It’s terrifying, actually. If Judges were a movie, it would be a horror film for sure.

Living in a time when all Israel was self-destructing, Deborah stands out as an exemplary judge. As the only woman to serve in judgeship over the nation of Israel, she led God’s people with wisdom and courage. In addition to her national influence as a fiery judge, Deborah functioned as an authoritative prophet—speaking on behalf of God. And similar to a king or queen, Deborah directed the military too.

Deborah was not God’s plan B. She was an indispensable asset, chosen by God to lead.

God chose Deborah to call the nation into battle against the Canaanites in the Valley of Kishon. Israel’s army faced seemingly unbeatable foes––the Canaanite army and their 900 iron chariots. The book of Judges makes it clear: the Canaanites could overpower anyone. No opposing army could contend with such horsepower.

If you go back and read Deborah’s story, you’ll see she faced the battle in the Valley of Kishon the way we all want to face our metaphorical valleys—with courage, conviction and confidence. But why was Deborah so brave?

The Scriptures point us to at least two reasons. First, Deborah led with courage because she was sure that God would deliver the Canaanites into Israel’s hands in the Valley of Kishon. She says as much in Judges 4:6-7. Some translations of the verse quote Deborah as saying, “… Has not the LORD, the God of Israel, commanded … ?” (ESV). In other words, she knows that if God says to go into battle, the victory is sure. 

Her determination was rooted in believing God’s message to His people. Maybe she placed such confidence in God’s directives because she was used to receiving and dispensing His truth as Israel’s judge. Whatever the case may be, I want to be more like Deborah when it comes to the valleys in my life, taking God at His word. You probably do too.

The second reason Deborah opposed the Canaanites with conviction is that she believed God had gone before the army in battle and secured the victory through His supernatural power. She poses this question to Barak, the leader of Israel’s army: “Has not the LORD gone ahead of you?” (Judges 4:14, NIV). The question is rhetorical, but it begs an answer. Yes. Of course God has gone before the victors. Though that’s easier said than trusted.

As you journey through life trying to walk through your low points with dignity and faith, look to the example of Deborah. You and I, like Deborah, can choose to trust God’s Word. And we can trust that not only is He with us in the trenches, but He has also gone before us to chart a path for our victory. 


Kat is a sought-after Bible teacher and the author of multiple books, including the new Storyline Bible Studies. She holds a master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and is pursuing her doctorate in New Testament context from Northern Seminary. She is the cofounder of the Polished Network, and you can follow her online @katarmstrong1.

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