Month: September 2013

Lessons from a persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8)

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I loved this parable from a few weeks ago!

Just an explanation of the pictures, Alexandra my daughter (7yrs) draws during family devotions at breakfast, she draws “what she sees in her head” – love it.  Here she has drawn the widow and the judge and then herself and God who chose her!

Why is this parable recorded in Scripture?

Luke tells us why in verse 1…  This parable is in Scripture so that we would always pray and not loose heart in our praying.  Why is this necessary, well it’s because we do loose heart in our praying (haven’t you?), because from our perspective, when God’s answer is seemingly delayed we tend to unravel…

We can identify with the widow, who has a need and she needs to persist to get an answer.  Sometimes, actually oftentimes when we are praying there appears to be no answer.  We can learn from this widow and her example to persist in our prayer and not give up.

What questions does it address, ask or answer?
1) Unanswered prayer or delays in answered prayer.

God always answers our prayers, He just doesn’t always give us the answer we are looking for or in the time we would like, but He does answer our prayers.

One of my greatest lessons in life came through unanswered prayer…

We had left everything, sold everything to follow God’s call to come and lead Oasis Church in Amanzimtoti.  One of the things we needed was for me to sell my shares in a private company to help us buy a home in Amanzimtoti.  I concluded a deal to sell my shares and we moved, bought a home knowing that the money for the house would only be due on transfer of the property and so we had some time before the money from the sale of my shares would be needed.

But then the purchaser didn’t pay!  In fact he didn’t pay ever in the end.  We were stuck having bought a house and not able to afford a bond at the full purchase price and nothing seemed to be happening, my prayers were dominated not with prayer for the church but wrestling with God over this delay, disappointment and very real financial problem that presented itself and seemed not to be resolving itself.

Eventually on a prayer walk about 7 months later I felt God speak to me about my heart in the whole issue, God told me to forgive the man who had reneged on the deal.  It was at that time that God taught me that it is possible to be right but not Christlike, but that is not being right at all!  So I repented and within a short time someone else offered to buy my shares and the problem was resolved.

It’s been said that God always answers our prayers either with; yes, no or not now.  Why are my prayers unanswered?  This is a common question.  Luke makes Jesus’ purpose clear in prefacing the parable with; “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1)

God wants us to persist like this widow did, even in the face of seemingly unanswered prayer or delay.  When we read this parable and we hear what the unrighteous judge says, we need to then hear Jesus’ words spoken to encourage us

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.

God will never be rightly charged for forgetfulness or not paying attention or not caring about us or not loving us – His children.  We need to remember these things when there appears to be delay or when what we prayed for did not happen.

We pray to the Father who loves us, we are taught in this parable that God is attentive to the cries of His chosen ones (“His elect”), He does not delay long over them.  The question is not whether God is faithful to us, mindful of us or listening, the real question in this parable is whether we will continue to trust God even when there are delays or when the answers to our prayers are not what we have asked for or thought was best.  Will we trust God then?  That’s the real question.

We put God on trial but in reality we are the ones on trial not God.  Which leads to the next question/issue raised by this parable…

2) The parable ends with a question focused on us…Will God find faith on the earth?

The question Jesus poses to each one of us is; “Will we persist in our faith, in our prayers like she did in her requests?”  We know God will find faith on the earth, the question is whether it will be our faith?

What mystery does this text speak to?
The mystery of election.

In making His point, Jesus contrasts two things:
1) God and the unrighteous judge
2) The elect of God and the widow

We who have believed in Jesus are incredibly valuable to God.  We are “His elect” (ESV) “His chosen one’s” (NIV).   Jesus is making a similar argument to the one found in Matthew 6:25-34 where we are told not to worry because if God our Father cares for the lilies of the field, the grass and the birds HOW MUCH MORE will our Father not care for us?

Here in this parable, Jesus is making the same type of argument, God chose us, we are very valuable to Him, she was unloved and with little value and yet she was heard, HOW MUCH MORE will we who are so valuable to God be heard by God!

In our day, many believers wrestle with the doctrine of election, it is full if mystery and an offence to the modern mind in a number of ways.

However, it was not some topic to avoid for Jesus, but rather a truth that was meant to encourage the disciples.

Application

May we be like this widow who persisted in her requests to an unrighteous judge who saw no value in her, being encouraged knowing that we come not to some unrighteous judge but to our Heavenly Father who loves us and who chose us before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) because He loved us (Ephesians 1:5).

May we like her therefore not give up but continue to trust God, believing even when we can’t see the evidence of His love and continual care for us, may we believe that He knows what is best for us and often it is not what we think is best for us, may we trust Him and His purposes for our lives.

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