Tuesday, March 8

Struggling with Scripture

One passage of Scripture that I have a hard time grasping is Luke 18:1-8.

It's the story of the persistent widow. A widow had a wrong committed against her but lived in a town where the judge was known to be self-absorbed and uncompassionate. The widow repeatedly went before the judge asking for help and was repeatedly denied. However, one day the judge got so annoyed by her persistence that he decided to grant her request just to be done with her.

What, pray tell, is the moral of the story?

Often I have heard that God is the judge and we are the persistent widow. So, does this mean that I need to daily bring my requests to God until He gets tired of hearing my requests and decides to grant them? Somehow, I don't think God works that way. Moreover, I don't necessarily want God to grant my requests just because I begged/beseached daily for years...I want Him to grant the requests because it is a part of His will and desire for my life. If prayer is the focus of the story, then I might be inclined to think that God doesn't listen to my prayers...this contradicts many passages in Scripture where He asks us to pray! Plus, I know God isn't like the uncaring judge because He has proven Himself to be so good.

So maybe this isn't really about prayer after all.

Verses 6-8 make it sound like it's about justice...righting the wrong that was done against the widow. We live in a sin-filled world, full of people who have been hurt or are hurting others. Does this parable mean that when we have been hurt or persecuted or cheated or slandered that God will provide justice if we asks repeatedly? If there's one thing that I am learning through my thesis paper, it is that God's ways are not necessarily my ways...meaning, that what seems like injustice may be setting a stage for something greater than I can imagine or that God may want to use my pain to bring glory to His character or that justice may not be granted until we are with Christ in heaven.

So maybe this isn't fully about justice either.

In my reflection on this passage, I've concluded that the link to this whole weird little story, is the very last line:
However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?
The widow demonstrated faith by continually going before the judge even after receiving no after no after no! She didn't give up...she didn't figure that it was hopeless (which by all accounts it certainly seemed to be). She continued to get up each day and present her case before the judge in hopes that today would be the day that he would hear her and justice would be delivered.

If the story is about faith, then suddenly I can make sense of the story. Suddenly, I can wrap my mind around the fact that God wants me to demonstrate faith...faith that He will work things out...faith that He will hear my prayer even when it seems like He doesn't...faith that He loves me infinitely more than the incompassionate judge...faith that where I am is where He desires to use me.

Now I know that there are things about God I will never fully grasp or understand...and I'm okay with that. So I admit that this little story could indeed be about prayer or justice, which means I don't fully understand the application...and that would be okay too. Maybe He can explain it to me when I get to Heaven. But until then, this is my current take on it...and I think God is okay with that.


My name is Cait said...

Well I'm going Luke exegesis and we're up to this passage in a couple of weeks... I'll let you know how it goes :)
I always think of the story of Hannah when I read this parable. Not sure if they are the same but I love that she worshipped and prayed before the Lord every year. She could have just accepted she was barren but she asked anyway.

Mindy said...

Let me know what you dig up! :)

Good analogy...I never thought of Hannah but that's a perfect comparison.