“In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 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 about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’
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 18:2-8).
Webster’s Dictionary defines persistence as “the quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by other people; the state of occurring or existing beyond the usual, expected or normal time.” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/persistence). The widow in Luke 18 was persistent. Luke explains “Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1) What I like most regarding our Savior’s words, “will he find faith on the earth when he comes”.
If you desire anything in life, the task at hand will require persistence. The problem with our society is people expect an easy way out. With technology, buttons, fast-food, drive-thru, purchasing online and immediate self-gratification, waiting has become a chore, a challenge and one in which people will not adhere to do. Many can get frustrated in the grocery check-out line. Huffing, puffing and stamping their feet all the while glaring out the check person or one in front causing the traffic jam. If we have to wait to long in a restaurant, our waitress/waiter does not precisely fulfill the order correctly, the tip, huh! Non existent! Our easily offended, delicate sensibilities fail to recognize a new employee, first day on the job or a pressure to perform correctly can cause these discrepancies in grocery stores or restaurant gaffes.
Christians are supposed to act and handle themselves differently than the world. Paul encourages the Philippians to conduct themselves worthy of the gospel in whatever happens or we could say, in whatever situation you are in (Philippians 1:27). I try to remind myself when I am in the situation, usually with little eyes and ears around, this is a perfect teaching and training moment for my children. Christians have the mark of the Holy Spirit, a seal, a promise, a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession (Ephesians 1:13-14). Now, the fruit of the Spirit inside each one of us, this mark, this promise and deposit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Having these character qualities available to us when we accept Christ into our hearts as Savior and Lord over our lives, why do we not see more Christian’s behaving or living lives worthy of their calling? There are many reasons, different for each Christian, but focusing on the persistent widow, some walk away from the faith because the promised life, promised possessions or promised expectations were not the person thought. For example, I came back to the church after a post-partum depression. It was an actual vision of Jesus Christ that saved my life from a dark pit. There was no light, “universe”, Allah, Buddha or “good, positive” feeling that saved my from such emptiness, it was Christ alone. I knew in that moment he was real, loves his people, the church and there is a life I can have other than what the “world” tells me is there.
Coming back in to the church from living in the “world” where ANYTHING goes with whatever makes a person “feel good” must be ok, I had so much to learn. As a wife, I did not expect the Lord to touch Tommy’s life seven years later with a dream. I expected if God changed mine, then he would change Tommy’s life just as quickly; not so. I have been asked, what happened in the seven years of waiting for Tommy to desire the Lord, come to church, worship and pray with our family? Persistence!
I have a “do not quit”, determined, “I’m going to win” attitude. I would never quit on the Lord, my marriage or my prayer life. When I read how persistent this widow was, our Christ expects us to continue knocking, seeking and asking, I was going to do just that (Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9) This act of persistence will require a few things such as submission to God’s will (Matthew 26:42, Luke 22:42), for we are no different than Christ. If the Savior of this world called on the Father during prayer, his will be done, then how much more should we be in prayer for our Father’s will, not our own.
Humility is not a buzz word. Obedience and humility go hand in hand and to be persistent, you will be humbled. “Humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6). “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10). “If my people will humble, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14). And one of my favorite scriptures, “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” (Psalm 25:9).
The book of James gives us a little insight into why persistence is so important to the Lord, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:1-5). Peter encourages believers to “make ever effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness, and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you for being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8).
Our faith needs to be purified and refined. Our faith needs to be grounded in the love for our Lord Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven. Our faith needs not be one of hidden agendas or self ambitions, but one that glorifies something greater than our own small lives. How else is the Lord going to reveal our true nature, how else are we to learn what we truly can accomplish and how else are we to know the love of a Father unless we go through trials, temptations and sufferings? If we profess love for one another, but are unable to forgive, then what kind of love do we have? If we loose all of our possessions learning we have a selfish heart, bringing our reliance on our Father to provide than monetary treasure, then was the suffering worth the pain? If a painful experience enables us to stand in front of tens, hundreds or thousands, repeating a testimony of heartache to love, would the painful experience be worth the price to help others who may be in the same situation?
If rejection of man brings you closer to the Lord from a broken heart, learning he has made and formed you in to womb for this time and this season, will never leave you nor forsake you, was the rejection worth going through? How else are we to truly know what is in our hearts or more importantly, what we are capable of if we do not suffer some sort of trial for just a little while?
Persistence for truth, persistence for Jesus, persistence of peace, persistence of the demolishing of strongholds and worldly desires kept me continuing drawing closer to the Lord. I knew he was there and I knew the life my family could have if we humbled ourselves, sought his direction and my prayers continued in believe in something I could not see, but knew was there (Hebrews 11:1). What is your faith made of? Is your relationship with the Lord strained as you wait for a loved one to come to the Christ? Do you feel you have prayed long enough for something? Have you asked the Lord if this is the right person for you? Have you ever given the Lord a timeline and expected him to follow? Have you quit many times over, but find yourself back in the Word searching for answers the world can not provide?
We have a God who judges justly and impartially. I trust him completely and my prayer is you feel the same. I encourage you to persist in your prayer life. Do not give up on someone God has asked you to pray for. Do not quit when the goings get tough, but use the situation to strengthen your character and faith. Come, let us reason together and CONFESS the Word of the Living God;
Lord, I have given my life to you as a servant of Jesus Christ. I desire to know you with the wisdom and revelation given by the Spirit (Ephesians 1:17). I pray the eyes of my heart may be enlightened in order that I may know the hope to which I was called (Ephesians 1:18). Give me the persistence as the widow in Luke 18. I know that persistence, perseverance must finish its work so that I may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4).
I believe faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do no see (Hebrews 11:1). I understand the sufferings and trails I endure will only last but a little while; during this season, increase my faith (1 Peter 1:6, Luke 17:5) Show me how to submit before your will and not my own (Matthew 26:42, Luke 22:42). I desire truth in my inner being (Psalm 51:6), so bring forth any hidden agenda, self ambition that is not of you. While I wait for _______________, if it your will, increase my joy! Give me the self-control to study, grow in the knowledge of you and have a peace that surpasses understanding (Galatians 5:22, Philippians 4:7). I know I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, so help me stay on course and confident in the work in which you began will be carried out to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13, 1:6).
I pray for a humble spirit that will bow before you where in due time you will lift me up in honor (James 4:10, 1 Peter 5:6). I know you guide the humble in what is right and teach them your ways.” (Psalm 25:9). I desire to submit before you and know your thoughts are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8). Help me to rely solely on you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth I pray, Amen!