I haven't shared about what my girls' Bible study that I lead has been talking about recently. As always, I am quite sure that I get far more out of it than the girls do, but you never know. We've been slowly working our way through Luke. This is year two and we're just about to get to the triumphal entry, so we're getting there.
What I have been spending a lot of time pondering is the parable of the persistent widow. (Luke 18: 1- 8) If you are not familiar with it, here's the brief version. A widow persistently hounds a local judge insistently asking for justice. He was an unjust man who cared neither for people or God. The widow is so persistent that the judge eventually gives her what she asks for just to get some peace. Jesus then asks, if the unjust man can eventually do what is right, how much more so will God?
I will admit to misinterpreting this story for a long time. I saw it as a need for badgering and persistence. If I didn't diligently hound God, then I didn't want what I as praying for about enough and didn't deserve to receive it. The responsibility for the outcome fell onto my shoulders. And let me tell you, with this interpretation, this responsibility is a heavy, heavy weight.
As I was preparing for studying this passage with the girls, I realized that I had been wrong. Jesus does not tell us this story to show that we must be persistent because that is what is required, but tells us to show us something profound about God. The parable is there to show us how much God is NOT like the unjust judge. The judge did what was right only grudgingly and for selfish reasons. The widow only received justice because the judge wanted her off his back. He did not delight in giving justice nor was he quick to do so. There was ultimately a good outcome for the widow but it was not due to any good motives of the judge.
This, Jesus says, is so different from God, our Father. God, instead, delights to give justice to his children and He does so speedily. This is the tricky part, isn't it? Sometimes we don't perceive God as acting speedily, do we? We want the problem solved, the injustice righted, the wrong undone right now, not tomorrow, not next week, and certainly not next year. We sometimes lose sight that God works without hurry yet at exactly the right time. We think we can see all parts of the problem, yet we see such a small portion of it that our view of any issue is compromised. How many times have I prayed about something thinking I knew best how it should work out only to have God say, "No." Then, looking back with the wisdom of the hindsight of several years, I realize how much better God's way turned out to be. If I had gotten what I thought I wanted, it would have very often been a train wreck.
Jesus knew that this would be problematic, which is why I believe he added the preface to the parable found in verse 1, "And He told them the parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart." I have been thinking about the difference in how I pray if I know upfront that God delights to do what is right and quickly and my only responsibility is to pray and not lose heart. It is the not desperate poundings of someone who is unsure of the outcome. Instead it is the calm and patient assurance that God wants what is best for me even more than I do and that He will bring it to pass. It is prayer from a place of peace rather than fear. And the responsibility is no longer on my shoulders.
This strikes me all the more forcefully as I see my family entering a time when God is bringing several prayers to fruition. It is awe inspiring to watch and be a part of, especially because some of these prayers have been on my lips for a long time. I can't help but think this is going to be an amazing story that we are getting to play a part in and cannot wait for the time when I am free to share it with you.
Remember, pray always and do not lose heart.
I have another article up. It is a book review of my friend, Mary Ostyn's book, Forever Mom: What to Expect When You're Adopting. Read the review and read the book. It is really very well done.