In Luke 18:1-8 Jesus talks about a widow who did not lose heart as she continued to pray for her vindication. Due to her persistence she was indeed vindicated against her adversary and by an unrighteous judge at that. In this parable, Jesus points out that God will vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night, but he ends his parable with a question: "when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
Christian faith goes beyond mere "believism" or making mental assent to a set of propositions. Christian faith can be described as faithfulness, fidelity, and persistence. We should be persistent in prayer, knowing that our heavenly Father is faithful and will keep His word as demonstrated during Jesus' earthly life. The persistence of the widow is truly amazing in her dealing with an unrighteous judge. When we pray to God, who is righteous, we should be even more persistent, because we know He cares deeply for us.
I'm reminded of a true story of a Christian man who lived in a suburb of Kansas City. One day he lost both hands in a premature explosion while blasting stone. Not only did he lose his hands, his face was severely damaged resulting in the loss of his eyesight. Having become a Christian just a couple of years prior to the accident, it had been his daily habit to read God's word. The Bible was his delight, and he was greatly distressed at no longer being able to read it. He heard of a lady in England who could read Braille with her lips. Some friends ordered for him parts of the Bible in the Moon raised type, and he could hardly wait for their arrival. But alas! He discovered that the explosion had destroyed the nerves of his lips. He had no sense of touch in which to read the Bible. He wept over the Book and stooped to kiss it farewell, when he happened to touch it with his tongue. His teacher was recalled, and he quickly learned to read the raised characters by running his tongue along them. "I have read the whole Bible through four times," said he, "and many of the books of the Bible over and over again."
What about you? What is hindering you from being persistent in prayer and action? Paul wrote to the Galatians and said, "And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart" (Galatians 6:9). St. James said, "Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4).
The way we keep from being discouraged when obstacles and trials come our way is by knowing the will of God and through persistence. Our persistence is not based on our ability to present a case before God but is based on Christ's faithfulness. Our confidence springs from our knowledge of God in salvation history. Many people fold and throw in their cards when they are dealt what appears to be a bad hand. We should never put a period where God put a comma. We should never give up. Yes, we have setbacks but because Christ was and is faithful, we can persevere.
I want to give you some statistics of a man of whom you have probably have heard:
He lost his job in 1832.
He was defeated for the legislature, also in 1832.
He failed in business in 1833.
He was elected to the legislature in 1834.
He suffered the loss of his sweetheart, who died in 1835.
He suffered a nervous breakdown in 1836.
He was defeated for speaker of the state legislature in 1838.
He was defeated for nomination for Congress in 1843.
He was elected to Congress in 1846.
He lost his re-nomination for Congress in 1848.
He was rejected for the position of land officer in 1849.
He was defeated for the Senate in 1854.
He was defeated for the nomination for Vice-President of the United States in 1856.
He was defeated again for the Senate in 1858.
Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States in 1860.
The Christian response toward adversity is knowing God's will, being persistent, and by not putting a period where God put a comma.
1. Take some time to pray and review your relationship with God. Think about your areas of responsibility (work, home, community). Are there things that you were praying for but gave up on? Write those unrealized prayers down and renew your commitment to seek God in prayer.
2. Take a few minutes every day to read the Bible. Even if you can only read a chapter from the gospel, locate something in the reading that you could incorporate into your prayer. Learn to pray the scriptures on a daily basis.