When Abraham Lincoln was facing the crisis of a divided nation during the civil war, he was faced with many tough decisions. Often he was second guessed. Criticized. And even mocked.
It’s no wonder he admitted, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.”
During this current crisis, we may wonder where to go. Literally there’s no place to go. Everyone is told to stay home. At times, the advice of the experts seems contradictory and confusing. We ponder what the future holds. Will life ever be the same again?
In our Bible reading this week is a powerful parable that ought to encourage us. It’s the parable of the persistent widow. Luke writes that Jesus “spoke a parable to them that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.”
The Parable Analyzed
The character of the Judge. He’s an unjust man. One of ill repute. He was devoid of religious principles with no fear of God. And immune to public opinion with no regard for mankind.
The distress of the widow. She had an adversary who wronged her. Her repeated attempts for justice fell on deaf ears. She was fighting an uphill battle.
The difficulty she faced. . As a woman, she had no rights and little standing before the court. Being a widow, she had no husband to plead her cause. Plus she was poor. Three strikes. She was out. She’s a picture of vulnerability. She had no recourse in her cry, “Grant me justice.” Only to return the next day.
The reward of persistence. Apparently the woman’s repeated attempts for the judge to hear her case got on his nerves. “She wearing me out,” he sighs. So he relents. Hears her case. And executes justice.
Lessons Learned by Constants
We tend to quickly apply this parable by teaching the lesson of persistence in prayer. While that’s true, there’s more to it. It’s an interesting study in contrasts.
1. Praying is contrasted with discouragement. Don’t lose heart. Don’t despair. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Don’t grow weary. Don’t lose hope. “Pray without ceasing,” regardless of the adversary, obstacles, or circumstances.
2. The widow is contrasted with God’s elect. The widow does illustrate the power of persistence, but Jesus is not saying we are like her. Actually, he’s arguing from the lesser to the greater. If she received what she wanted from a selfish judge, how much more should we expect from a loving Father.
◆She was a stranger. We’re the children of God. (1 Pet 2:9-10)
◆She was only one and all alone,. We are many as a part of the Family of God.
◆She could only plead at a distance. We can draw near and come boldly (Heb. 4:15-16)
◆She pled her own case. But we have an advocate who intercedes for us (Rom. 8:26)
◆She had no promise of an answer. But we have the promise that God hears and answers our prayers (LK. 18:8).
◆She came to a court of law. We come to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16)
◆Her request provoked the judge. Our supplications delights God.
3. The earthly judge is contrasted with the heavenly Father. Obviously God is not like the judge in the story.
◆The judge was unjust. But God is righteous.
◆The judged was inattentive to the woman. But God is attentive to our requests.
◆The judge had to be pressured. But God is naturally concerned.
◆The judge was wearied by the woman’s coming. But God is glad that we asked.
◆The judge listened to the woman for the wrong reason. But god listens because we loves us.
What a great God we serve who is holy and just, but also caring and compassionate. Our prayers don’t fall on deaf ears. Instead they are music to His ears.
4. Finally remember that man’s delays are not God’s denials. We’re told to keep praying. Yet, God may not immediately answer. Why? Maybe God is teaching us to exercise patience. Waiting may strengthen our resolve, deepen our desire, and grow our faith.
But we may wonder, “Will God execute and administer justice for His people?”
Yes. He. Will.
In this present distress, unprecedented in our generation, don’t give in to discouragement. Despair. Or desperation. Don’t throw in the towel. Don’t give in. Don’t give out. Don’t give up.
Don’t lose heart. Pray.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman