An Alternative to Discouragement

Posted on August 12, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

Jesus tells an interesting story in Luke 18:1-8 that is identified as the parable of the persistent widow. It is about a widow who continued to appeal to a unjust, insensitive judge to handle her case and give her justice against her adversary. The judge was unmoved and disinterested but finally intervened because the widow kept pestering him.

We often read this, making the application that we are to persist in our praying until God finally responds and answers our prayers. However, that is not the point of the parable. In fact, Jesus explains that God is not like the unjust judge, but He will respond and give justice speedily to those who cry to Him.

Diverted by this aspect of the story, it is easy to miss the point of the parable which Jesus clearly states at the beginning and in conclusion. Verse one–”And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Verse eight–”Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

The lesson is about that interim period when our prayers are not answered, when we don’t have a response to our petitions, and when our problems are not solved. No one keeps praying once the need has been met and the prayer answered. But there is an alternative to losing heart and discouragement in the interim, and that is to pray; we are to yield the matter to God.

At any moment will Jesus find faith in our hearts, believing even when the answer is not yet apparent. Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  One doesn’t have to have faith when something is already a reality. But what about when it is just a hope in our hearts and the answer we are seeking is not yet seen? During that interim when nothing is happening, we are getting no relief and our needs are not being met, will we lose heart or continue believing God?

We are told that faith is what provides victory in the Christian life. We resist Satan, “firm in our faith” (1 Peter 5:9). “This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). Faith is believing God and His promises when all evidence is to the contrary. It is having confidence in His faithfulness and mercy even before we experience it.

Yes, God has promised to answer our prayers speedily, but we all go through extended periods of time when His answer is not yet evident. Will we lose heart, feel forsaken and bitter toward God; will we allow our faith and confidence to be eroded, or will we keep on believing? Will Jesus find faith in our hearts?

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