In stark contrast to an indifferent judge, the Bible says many times, “God is good.” The psalmist writes, “O give thanks to the Lord for He is good, and his mercy endures forever.” The assault on the goodness of God started in the garden with the serpent attacking God’s goodness. He made Eve think that God was withholding good, that He was sneaky, manipulative, not to be trusted, and insecure. To the degree that we doubt God’s goodness we will faint in prayer. Why wouldn’t you persist knowing the character of God? You have everything going for you.
So we put two people together in a contest, an obnoxious man on the bench and an unrelenting widow who will never give up. Who wins? The widow. Now put a kind, loving Father together with a persevering child. Who wins that one? Both. The widow represents the people of God. And God the caring Judge takes our case. Bingo!
Do you stop when you feel like you have gotten a “no?” Or when you have prayed for ten years? Or when circumstances look negative? We have two possibilities in our parable—persistent prayer or quitting. Maybe we have prayed what we think is long enough, so we stop, like taking a hike and giving up just before we reach the peak. When we persevere, the rewarding view makes the sore muscles worth it.
We need to persist…
when we think we are hearing a “no”
when the circumstances don’t favor a positive answer
when our faith begins to dwindle.
We give up…
when the circumstances override our trust in God’s sovereignty
when the difficulty looms larger than God.
When we give up,
we miss out on what we may be close to attaining
we may discourage others who need to persevere.
This is an end-times story. Jesus just finished a long teaching on the last days. One chapter later He is walking into Jerusalem, initiating His last week, in which He gives more teaching on the end than at any other time. He also closes His parable on prayer with a word about His return, tipping us off to a major theme in the story. He wonders if people will be looking for Him. Most will not.
Jesus is not a pessimist, but He does say in the Sermon on the Mount that “only a few find” the narrow way leading to life (Matthew 7:14). He says that “the love of most will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). “Most” is a lot. Don’t let “most” include you. In Luke’s version of Christ’s end-time discourse, Jesus speaks about how His return will surprise most people, just like the flood hit people unaware. Jesus starts His story with a strong exhortation to persist in prayer and closes by asking if people will persevere. Let’s be among those who go for it if we’re around when Jesus returns. Two pictures will determine whether you do—your picture of God and your picture of yourself. What kind of people do not give up? Those who have a testimony of God’s faithfulness. Worked before; going to work again. People who believe in God more than in their circumstances.
Perhaps you want to offer this prayer: “Jesus, help me to keep persisting. I give up too easily. I want to be faithful to the end—regardless. I will pray until I have received what I have asked for.”