The Parable of the Persistent Widow
by Jill Kasowski
If you’re like me, you’ve had days when you wake up and realize you could pretty easily give up, lose heart. It might take no more than the proverbial spilled milk to make you feel like your best move might be just to crawl back in bed and stay there until a bit more sun shines.
Jesus gets this. He knows us. The eternally begotten Son who humbled himself to be a fetus in a womb, who took on flesh to know our weakness and sorrows, who was tempted in every way just as we are, he knows. And he speaks this Word to us for those days - “to the effect that [we] ought always to pray and not lose heart.”
Maybe that’s the very simple thing we really need to know: that God’s Word to us and our prayers to Him have powerful effect. For us who so easily lose heart or lose track of loving God with all that we are, maybe that’s just what we need to trust, to make it on those days?
In Luke 18, Jesus paints a picture of an unrighteous judge. One needy widow bothers him with her requests, and the judge finally agrees to “give her justice, so that she will not beat [him] down by her continual coming.”
We know this kind of judge. We’re his kind. Selfish and snobbish and we can’t be bothered. And Jesus doesn’t even spend a breath condemning him here! He sees that we are but dust, and he speaks to us of just such dusty, dirty lives - the judge’s and ours. And because he knows us, he doesn’t leave us with a self-help message about how to clean ourselves up. His Word is that he Will Come. He will save us. And as no judge but a Father would feel quite so compelled for, God will come to His own “speedily.”
The theme of the Gospel on every page of His Word is that our rich-in-mercy, lavishly-loving God has saved us by His grace, not by our own doing (Eph. 2:4-9). It’s good news and exactly the rescue our weak hearts need.
The widow in Jesus’ story had nothing to appeal to in the judge; he “neither feared God nor respected man.” She didn’t win his favor because she found his soft spot. She won simply because she annoyed him so well.
How much better we have it than she did! We come to a Judge who is our loving Father who has already given us His Son. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Rom. 8:32).
So let us not straitjacket ourselves with questions of God’s sovereignty vs. our prayers. Jesus simply said that we “ought always to pray.” Hezekiah was told that because he prayed, God worked (Isa. 37). And Jesus connects our prayers with not losing heart. It's important.
When Jesus comes, may he find faith in us (Luke 18:8), a people living by hearing and heeding the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). May our hearts be steady and our prayers persistent, not for our will but his, for his kingdom to come. May we have much of kingdom riches because we asked much for God’s eternal glory and our eternal joy in Him.
Father, we believe. Help our unbelief. For those of us who are fainthearted, strengthen us.
Jill Kasowski and her family arrived in Falls Church last summer to work with For The Nations DC, a ministry partner of The Falls Church Anglican that provides ESL and Bible classes primarily for refugees and asylum seekers. The Kasowskis are 10:30ers who usually have at least a kid or two in mismatched socks.