If I had a
$1 .50 cents for every time my 3 year old daughter makes a “snack request” before 10 AM, I would be able to put her through college without a single minute spent on figuring out the whole FAFSA circus. Seriously, Sallie Mae could just kiss my loan goodbye because this mother wouldn’t need a single penny from any loan or any bank. Not a single one. Because seriously, my girl knows how to make a persistent request.
The mid-morning snack request begins shortly after she finishes her breakfast granola. No joke; I am beginning to think I gave birth to a Hobbit. This child believes in “second breakfasts,” “elevensies,” lunch, “afternoon tea,” supper, and dinner! How in the world she can barley push out of the 10th percentile is really beyond my comprehension – the girl eats all the time! And though you would think that this toe-head with big blue eyes would melt my mama-soul with her consistent, persistent demands, she doesn’t.
In all honesty, her continual “snack requests” have the ability to grate on my very last, bless-ed nerve.
She may only stand a mere 36 inches tall, but she is relentless, tenacious, and steadfast in her incessant requests for goldfish, Cheetos, and pouches of snacks shaped like fruit.
So when I consider the parable of the “Persistent Widow” in Luke 1:1-8, I feel like I have some deep empathy for this tired judge.
The text reads:
“And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to His elect, who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long over them? I tell you, He will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”
Did you catch the main characters of this parable?
Character 1: We have a judge who lives in a “certain city” (apparently the name doesn’t matter) and not only does he not fear God, he doesn’t respect man. Doesn’t sound like he would be a nominee for any “Most-Popular” awards in this unnamed city, now does he?
Character 2: We have a widow who lives in the same “certain city” (maybe we really ought to call it the “uncertain city”) who is continually bothering this unrighteous judge because she wants justice against her adversary.
Not gonna lie, it sounds a little comical… or at least the picture in my head appears a tad amusing.
So what’s the problem?
Though the persistent widow is continually coming to this judge, begging for due process, this ungodly and grumpy judge has been “refusing awhile.”
Jesus doesn’t share what the adversary of the widow did; He doesn’t outline what justice the widow desires; and we don’t know how long “awhile” was, but He clearly describes a woman who appears to be a steadfast bother. Should we say, “a burr in the saddle?”
This woman is unwavering, absolutely unwilling to accept the “no” of this cantankerous official.
But then one day, that last straw breaks the unwilling judge’s back, and he caves and grants justice. Not because he has a change of heart (this is not the story of the Grinch whose heart was three sizes too small) and not because he decides he likes people and wants to be fair. No.
The man literally fears he is going to be beaten down by this widow’s continual nagging. “STOP! STOP! STOP! ENOUGH ALREADY! TAKE YOUR JUSTICE AND LEAVE ME ALONE!” In my mind, I imagine he shouts something of the sorts with spit flying from his frothing, annoyed mouth.
I’ve been there. TAKE THE CHEETOS, KID!!! I WANT MY SANITY!!!
At that point, I wonder what the disciples were thinking. Were they, too, annoyed with the persistent widow? I mean… they did throw a hissy fit when the children were trying to come to Jesus, and they were a little miffed when the hungry crowds were closing in, right? Were they hoping Jesus was going to condemn the annoying actions of the widow?
But Jesus doesn’t.
Not only does Jesus take this opportunity to draw a line in the sand, separating His Father from the unrighteous and unloving judge, but He uses this story to encourage them… you and me (His chosen and beloved)… to be the nagging widow, the persistent snack-requesting toddler.
And what does He want us to be relentless about? We get the answer in that first verse – He wants His people to be relentless in their prayers, praying with a fervency and a steadfast spirit that does not lose heart and does not walk away.
Seriously. How unlike God am I? How easily do I tire of my daughter’s continual requests, her incessant asking? But our Father isn’t like the grumpy judge or the weary mother. Not even a little bit.
He wants and is literally urging us to bang down His heavenly door. He wants us to storm His throne and ring the door bell to His heart 1,001 times and then some more. He wants us to beg and plead, plead and beg, and then do it all over again. He wants us to call out, day after night and night after day. He wants to hear from His children, and He wants to hear from us repeatedly and continuously. He doesn’t tire; He doesn’t get frustrated; He doesn’t feel beat down; and here’s the real kicker, He doesn’t even see it as nagging.
The answer is found in verse eight and is connected to the portion of Scripture found before it in Luke 17. Our heavenly Father doesn’t find our petitions and prayers to be nagging. No, He finds them to be characteristic of the FAITHFUL.
He wants, as we wait for His heavenly return or for our earthly departure, to be found FAITHFUL and PERSISTENT in seeking Him. He wants to hear our requests; He wants to have fellowship with His bride; and He wants us to believe that He is able.
Just as my daughter knows I hold the “key” to the snack cupboard and just as the widow knew the judge held the “gavel” for the justice, He wants us to believe that He holds all the power and authority to act and answer on our behalf.
He wants us to believe HE CAN.
Sure, the widow received her justice and sure, my daughter manages to secure daily fruit snacks, but that isn’t the point of this parable. The lesson isn’t found in the “answer to the prayer,” but rather in the “commitment of the prayer-er.”
Friend, I don’t know what prayer you’re pleading and what petition you’re praying, and I don’t know how many times you’ve asked, begged, and cried for it, but I pray you will not lose heart and grow weary. I pray you will continue to have faith as you pray, persistently believing that HE CARES… even if He choose not to answer “yes” today, tomorrow, or on this side of heaven.
And I pray that no matter the “yes,” “no,” or “not now” you receive, that you will remain faithful to banging, beating, and battering His ever-loving, ever-committed ears while you call this world your home.