Summary: God appears obscure and enigmatic to us all at times, but as we persevere in our relationship with God we realize that God perseveres toward us also.
“Don’t Give Up on God” / Luke 18:1-8
Proper 24, Year C; Downsville Baptist Church; 21 October 2001
If Jesus is trying to teach us about the importance of persevering in our prayer lives, we wish he would have done it in a less confusing and puzzling manner. Perhaps his parable should have gone like this: Verily, verily I tell you that once upon a time there was a good lady who lived next door to an atheist. Everyday, when the lady prayed, the atheist guy could hear her. He thought to himself, "She sure is crazy, praying all the time like that. Doesn’t she know there is no GOD!" Many times while she was praying, he would go to her house and harass her, saying, "Lady, why do you pray all the time? Don’t you know there is no GOD!" But she kept on praying. One day, she ran out of groceries. As usual, she was praying to the Lord explaining her situation and thanking Him for what He was going to do. As usual, the atheist heard her praying and thought to himself, "Humph...I’ll fix her." He went to the grocery store, bought a whole bunch of groceries, took them to her house, dropped them off on the front porch, rang the door bell and then hid in the bushes to see what she would do. When she opened the door and saw the groceries, she begin to praise the Lord with all her heart, jumping, singing, and shouting everywhere! The atheist then jumped out of the bushes and told her, "You crazy old lady. God didn’t buy you those groceries, I bought those groceries!’ Well, she broke out and started running down the street, shouting and praising the Lord. When he finally caught her, he asked what her problem was... She said "I knew the Lord would provide me with some groceries, but I didn’t know he was going to make the devil pay for them!"
If Jesus’ has one parable that every preacher wishes wasn’t in the Bible it is this one. What should we call it? The parable of the annoying widow and the judge who acted like a jerk? On the surface the parable appears to be telling us that if we bug God long enough with our requests that eventually God will get tired of our pestering and give in to our whining. However, the point of the parable is missed entirely if we understand the unjust judge as representative of God. Jesus’ point is that God is very different from the judge who begrudgingly does what is right only after being harassed by the widow. God desires to give all good things to his children. God does not withhold blessings from us until we pray long enough for them. Our times of prayer are not intended to show God just how bad we want something. Instead the sweet hour of prayer is the moment in which we show God how much we want him and love him. Prayer is God’s gift to us through which we know and worship the Provider. The focus is always intended to be the Provider, not the provisions. Even the unjust judge eventually gives to the widow what she needs. Jesus is saying to us, “How much more confident can we be that our Father, a good faithful judge, will certainly take care of us!” God is not arbitrary. God does not view our prayers as annoying requests as did the unjust judge.