Faith? Or Doubt?
TWENTY-FOURTH IN MY TEACHING SERIES ON THE PARABLES OF JESUS
The Parable Of The Persistent Widow
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”Luke 18:1-8
Justice Matters To God
There are two characters in the Parable of the Persistent Widow: the widow and a corrupt judge, who apparently lived in the same vicinity. The woman’s spiritual faith is unspecified, and the man’s faith is obviously nonexistent. Scripture is clear that the judge was one “who neither feared God nor cared what people thought” With this apathetic mindset, he dismissed the woman’s problem over and over again. And still, she came to him with the same plea each time. Her request was justice against her “adversary,” someone we never meet in the parable.
In this parable, Jesus draws a correlation between the judge and God with a rhetorical question. “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” Jesus adds that God will undoubtedly deliver justice and do so quickly. Whereas the judge dragged his feet, God won’t. And whereas the judge didn’t want to deliver justice, God does.
Four Lessons Jesus Wants Us To Learn
The Nature of Faith
Some people believe in what they can see. As Christians, we choose to believe also in what we cannot see. That’s the nature of faith. Science explains the physical world. Faith explains the spiritual. In the parable, Jesus does not ever explicitly say the widow had faith. However, she reveals a certain type of faith, believing in what she can’t see by continuing to communicate with the judge. The nature of the woman’s concern is not clear, but that doesn’t really matter. Her undefined struggle is symbolic of our own varied problems. Unlike the judge, God cares about us and hears our cries. Our problems differ but God loves each of us. He knows what situations are significant to our hearts and acts accordingly.
Pray To God Always
Jesus doesn’t say the woman berated the judge for dismissing her. Instead, she kept making her plea hoping for change in her life. She communicated in a way that the judge could receive, and ultimately he changed his heart. We too are called to pray consistently when we want change to occur in our own lives. We may pray for a change in our relationships, jobs, health, and the list goes on. God hears our requests and assures us He responds in ways that He knows are best for us.
God’s Delay Doesn’t Mean Denial Of Our Request
Sometimes when we pray for a specific outcome, we become discouraged when what we want doesn’t happen. If we find ourselves waiting after saying a prayer, there’s the potential to grow discouraged. Sometimes the wait early on is easy, but when the wait drags on, doubt can easily set in. With doubt, we ban begin to lose faith and trust in God. Delay does not always mean denial. Waiting is not necessarily God saying, “No.” While we pray for certain outcomes, we should also pray for a godly perspective, and that His will be done. Sometimes what we want isn’t in touch with God’s will, and sometimes what we want isn’t what we really need. The more our perspective aligns with God’s perspective, the less we have to worry about being denied at all. Waiting will simply mean watching God at work.
God Is Not Our Adversary
A quick read of this parable could lead a person to conclude that the widow had an issue with another person. But Jesus wants us to have a deeper understanding. The adversary could possibly be another person, but also could represent our own internal struggles. God may want us to pray for a change in our own behavior, bad habits, addictions, and for new perspectives. Our enemies are often not external. Yet, just as we can trust God to help us handle threats outside of ourselves, He desires to help us solve our internal struggles as well.
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