Luke 18: 1-8
The Story of the Persistent Widow
Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, “There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ‘My rights are being violated. Protect me!’
“He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’”
Then the Master said, “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”
This parable seems a little bit strange, as it puts a selfish and uncaring judge in the role of God: the desperate widow tells the judge her complaints and pleads for justice just as we tell God our troubles and appeal for his help. The point Jesus makes with this story is that if someone this bad will eventually act, even for the wrong reason (just to shut the woman up), we can safely trust that our God, who loves us and is justice itself, will hear us and respond.
Jesus is telling us that even if we don’t see any results from our prayer for a while, we must persist and not lose hope. I think most of us often feel that’s easier said than done. We can be impatient, and when we are feeling anxious and worried about our problems, it can be hard to stay hopeful and positive. The message Jesus has for us is about having ‘persistent faith’; about being people of hope.
The answers to our prayers are not always packaged the way we expect, and we often need to remind ourselves that ‘faith in God includes faith in his timing’! Even while we wait, we can get comfort from persistently praying. Talking to God about our worries is like talking to a friend or even a counsellor; he is listening to us, and through our prayer, we can allow him to guide us in seeing our way through the many messes our lives get into. We are not praying into some kind of black hole if we don’t see results right away. God has a plan …
I think there is another message of hope in the parable too. Jesus gives us the hope that, even in a system that is full of injustice, led by someone who doesn’t even care, it is possible, somehow, for justice to be done. That’s the sort of hope we need in the world today, together with the faith to sustain it by staying in touch with God.
Salesian Communications Worker
Strengthen our faith.
Help us to talk to you as a friend.
Show us how to accept your comfort
when we feel afraid and alone.
Keep our hope alive.