This parable has always been one of my favorite parables spoken by Jesus. It is found in Luke 18:1-8 and is one of the more obscure parables. I love it so much because it tells of the power of persistence, specifically the persistence of prayer. In fact, Luke begins the narration of this parable by telling his audience that the reason Jesus told it was “to the effect that they ought always pray and not lose heart (18:2 ESV).” It is so easy for us to pray and lose faith when we don’t get immediate response, or even a response in what we might consider a “timely manner.” This widow shows us why it is so important to be persistent. Go read Luke 18:1-8!
This parable begins in v2 with an introduction of a judge “who neither feared God nor respected man.” It is so important to the rest of this parable that we understand that this man was ugly of heart; he was not righteous in any way and did not have any love or respect for anyone other than himself. Haven’t we all known people like this? Can you imagine awaiting judgment from the one that person, or trying to receive justice and compassion from that person? This is the one to whom the widow pleads her case: an unrighteous man without compassion. Verse 3 introduces the widow who kept coming to him and asking for justice against her adversary. I love this word, kept. This woman was tenacious! I just wonder the last time we had to be tenacious with God? How long do you pray before you give up on getting an answer?
Verse 4 says that the judge refused for a while, but finally 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.” Again, we see the judge use the word “keeps;” in Greek this word is kopos, meaning, “a beating, an intense labor with trouble and toil.” Can’t you just see the image this definition evokes? This widow beats the judge down with her persistence, her intense labor finally wearing him down to surpass his apathy if only to get rid of her. Essentially, this woman makes herself such a nuisance that the judge has to give into her demands to be rid of the trouble she’s causing him. Do you know what this means for us? We are allowed to make a nuisance of ourselves before God in our desire for His answer! It is not a lack of faith when we repeat our prayers – Jesus told us to do it! We only turn our prayers into actions of faithlessness when God has already given us the answer and we do not believe him in his word.
The awesome part is what Jesus says in his explanation of the parable in vv7-8, “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.” There is an obvious contrast between God and the judge: the judge in v2 is characterized as neither fearing God nor respecting man, whereas God is seen as a loving judge who hears each cry of his people. This highlights the both the depravity of the human judge in v2 and also the abounding love the Holy Father has for His children. The contrast used in this passage strengthens Jesus’ argument that if the unrighteous judge will begrudgingly, finally give justice to the widow, how much more will the Ancient of Days dispense His holy justice? Not only will God dispense perfect justice, but he answers the cries of his people swiftly and speedily.
Sometimes it doesn’t seem like God answers us swiftly – definitely not as swiftly as we want. I prayed for 6 years for God to direct me in my future path. What I know now is that those 6 years were preparing me to enter a ministry in which I was no way prepared to undertake when I first started praying. I continued to pray and all the while, God was molding me into the person I needed to be before I could even entertain the idea of a career in God’s work. That’s the beauty of God’s timing; sometimes He simply is waiting to answer you until you are finally ready and capable of understanding His answer. Take heart, Dear One; God is constantly preparing you into the one you need to become to face your future. God is breathing in your prayers like incense and they are sweet indeed (Revelation 5:8). Be persistent in your prayers and have faith that God is preparing you for the time when your answer will come ❤