The Persistent Widow
Some call this the parable of the unrighteous judge, but it is usually called the parable of the persistent widow, since she embodies the truth of the story.
In this parable, there is a judge who cares only for himself. He only does what benefits himself. He does not fear God. He does not respect men. As a judge, he has power and wealth.
A widow keeps coming to him for justice. She is his polar opposite. She has absolutely no power and no wealth.
Only the judge can giver the widow what she wants\needs.
The only way the widow can get the judge to give her what she wants is to ask him.
She was persistent, though. She kept coming to him for justice. He finally gave it to her so that she would not wear him out asking. (5)
Jesus presented the Father in contrast to the righteous judge. It is an argument from the lesser to the greater. In effect he said if the unrighteous judge will give in to the persistence of the widow, how much more will the righteous God give justice to his elect.
The assumption is that God is righteous. “The Lord is righteous in all his ways” Psalm 147:17
The to whom God gives justice are his “elect”. The NIV uses the word “chosen” rather than “elect”, but they both accurately translate the Greek word “ekletos”. They are the ones God chose for salvation. He gives justice to his people who suffer injustice in a world that is not just.
The characteristic of these people is that they are persistent in prayer for justice. They cry to him day and night. In fact, Jesus said the Father will give justice to them speedily. (8) That makes me think, at first blush, he means “immediately”. But it does not seem to work that way a lot of the time. Why?
We know that God is just. The Bible tells us that. Deuteronomy 32:4 refers to God this way: “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A Good faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he”.
In Romans 9:14, Paul asked “Is there injustice on God’s part?” and he answered “by no means!”
Since God is just, he will act justly and he will bring justice. But he does not always bring it on our time table. Many of us have suffered injustice and cried out to God day and night only to see the injustice continue for some time. I suffered an injustice 10 years ago that still affects me, and it has not yet been made right. But God will set it right when the time is right. I believe that and I trust him to do it.
Remember also that God often accomplishes multiple things in a situation. He may delay justice for you to extend mercy to someone else. He may use your suffering to encourage someone else. He may also use it to further your sanctification.
Some injustices will not be be made right until Jesus returns. So, when Jesus said God will give justice speedily, he did not mean it will always be soon. He meant that, when it comes, it will come quickly and unavoidably at his second coming. 2nd Thessalonians 1:6-8 explains this to us. It says:
“This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering-since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to youth are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do uotknow God and on those who do not one the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”
We know God will act at the right time because he is wise. Paul wrote “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33) He knows everything and he knows what is best.
Finally, we know that God will act in the right way at the right time because he loves us. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the power time he may exalt you, casting all you anxieties on him, because he cares for you”. 1 John 3:1 says “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are”.
We do not pray to change God’s mind. But God has chosen prayer as the way for us to communicate with him and, in response to which, he acts.
Yet, we often do not pray. Certainly, we often do not persist in prayer. You may reflect on this and remember how you used to pray for someone or something but gave up after a while. Why do we do fail at this? Here are some reasons.
First, we are weak. We fall asleep as the disciples did. We get weary and cannot go on at times.
Second, we are lazy and lack discipline. We know we should pray. We know how to pray. But we do not make time for it.
Third, we are indifferent. We do not really care about someone else’s need. We get compassion fatigue when several bad things happen. Right now we have seen two hurricanes on the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean sea, and two earthquakes in Mexico. We just get tired of the difficulties or we are just glad it did not happen to us.
Fourth, we feel independent and in control. I hear people say “you go this” all the time. We are not in control. Count your blessings if things are going well for you. Thank God for them. But also pray for those who suffer, especially those who suffer injustice.
Fifth, we lack faith. As Luke said, we lose heart. (1) God did not act as fast or in the way we wanted, so we lost heart, or faith in him. I think that is why Jesus asked “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
We need to make prayer a habit. We pray because we believe God listens. We need to spend time alone with God. We need his provision for our daily needs. We need protection from Satan. We need peace of mind. We need victory over temptation and trial. We need God to help others with their problems, too.
And we pray for God’s kingdom to come. That is when ultimate justice will be done and ultimate relief given to those who are persecuted for their faith. Remember the scene in Revelation, when the seals are opened, and the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and their witness cried out “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on earth?” And, with John, at the end the book, we can pray “Amen. Come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)