Week 4 | Thursday
Week 4: What Does Faith Look Like?
The Parable of the Persistent Widow: Don't Give Up!
by Janet Nygren
Read: Luke 18: 1-18
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 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? 8 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?”
- What difference does it make that Jesus has been talking about ultimate justice (referencing the judgment of the entire world) before telling this parable? As you think about the reliability of the justice system today, how is this relevant?
- What are the implications in this parable regarding the character of God?
- What are the implications in this parable regarding the character of people?
- When you don’t see answers to prayer, or the answers you want to see, what potential doubts arise in your mind?
- How can this parable bring comfort? How can it bring discomfort?
- We have a God who welcomes even our doubts and questions. “I believe; help my unbelief!” is a prayer of faith. Take a minute to thank God for his justice and mercy, and ask him for strength to persevere like the widow in this parable.
- When have you experienced doubt that God really is who he says he is? What helps you to persevere when God seems silent? There is no shame in being honest about this–everyone goes through times like this. Can you share a story with this group?
This brings to mind a time when things were difficult in our family and in the Church. For the first time I heard of Winston Churchill’s famous but very short speech in the dark days of the Battle of Britain in WWII, “Never, Never,Never give up.” In quick succession, 2 different people referenced the same quote. I remember it as a time when God spoke clearly to me. Perseverance! It has been very important for me to remember.
I've seen over the years that our "justice system" definitely does not conform to God's values, rater, it's often a case of "how much justice can you afford?"
Those are not my original words. A friend from my young adult days was divorced, and her former husband had a very expensive lawyer and extensive resources. She had two sons who were put through the most difficult circumstances during the custody hearings, as their father, who had used his attorney to paint a (false) picture of himself as a highly involved parent, kept knocking on the judge's door.
Eventually, though, things settled down and joint custody was awarded. But a few months later, the father stole the children during one of his visits and moved out of state. And the justice system in New York didn't help, partly because my friend had depleted all of her resources during the initial battle.
She never found her children again, and died in a car accident around 2020. We don't even know if the father's family, who
(sorry about that)... still lived in Rome, told the children about their mother's death.
She was the first person to tell me that in the US legal system, justice is often related to the type of attorney one can afford. But her case was certainly not the last I heard of where this was true.
I guess this is why I volunteer on the JCAB juvenile justice board, and now the ethics board. I'm so sad to see good people overrun by injustice.
I’ve always been a news junkie. I always want to know what’s going on in the world, whether it’s local or on the other side of the world. This can often lead to a feeling of despair because the evil and injustice seem so overwhelming. It makes me question whether God really is in control. This parable is comforting because it reminds me that ultimately Jesus will bring the true justice I long for. I can let him worry about the big picture and focus on being his faithful follower in the situation he’s put me in. But I think I need to learn how to be more persistent in prayer when things seem hopeless. I tend to just give up after a while. It's reassuring that God doesn't seem to mind being "bothered" by us!
I guess we're not so different from the disciples in Jesus' day who wanted to see Jesus turn things upside down instantly. His plan was very different from theirs. And it still is. That's why I find that last question so convicting. God will make everything right, but will we still trust him to do it when we don't see things happening on our timeline?
When the Lord doesn't answer my prayers, such as when my years of pray didn't heal my best friend and another friend who passed 2.5 months prior to my best friend, the doubts that arose were "did God even hear me, did I pray wrong, have I too much sin in my life He didn't hear me? Lord why? The parable about the pharasees asking 'when is the kingdom of God coming', Luke 17:33 brought some relief "if you cling to your life, you will lose it and if you let your life go you will save it" spoke to me. If my best friend had not given up her life, life on earth would have been not good physically, giving up her life she, she was healed. I have been comforted knowing she is healthy, whole and praising her God and worshipping Him. The discomfort is that she's no longer here to share with and love. I've always prayed not my will but Your's Lord...then not thrilled about the outcome when it's not the way I had hoped and prayed. But! I know His will is better than mine.
Growing up I knew about God but didn't fully believe that He was a good God and cared about my life. If He was so good, then why was my life so horrible. When, in my late 20's, I learned who God and Jesus is, and that we live in a fallen world, I was able, with the help of the Holy Spirit to believe He is a loving and gracious God AND if it weren't for Him and those trials, I wouldn't be who I am today. In those times when God was silent, my tears flowed but I continued to persevere with faith and hope. May I always have hope, trust and faith as my best friend did. Praise be to GodI'm where I am today.