Summary: "When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" We talk about our disappointment with God, but is God ever puzzled by our lack of faith?
The parable of the widow and the unjust judge relates to our disappointment with God. Like the mistreated widow, we often wonder why God allows so much pain and injustice to go on. We pray and pray and yet no answer comes. The righteous perish and the wicked flourish. Sometimes we even wonder, “Is anyone listening up there?” We can be very vocal about our disappointment with God.
Jesus stands between God and man and explains that His Father loves us tenderly and that He will answer prayer; everything will be set right in the end! Then he comes back with the greatest puzzle to God, “Why don’t humans persevere in trusting God?” In spite of the fact that God does answer prayer, Jesus questions, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” This pain-filled question reminds me of the day Jesus asked His disciples, “Will ye also go away?” What a disappointment to Him! He has the solution to all our problems, but so many of us don’t trust Him. Can we sympathize with the heart of God?
Some time ago, I finished reading Philip Yancey’s book, "Disappointment With God." What a challenge! It was thought-provoking but also comforting. Compare James Dobson’s "When God Doesn’t Make Sense." Let’s talk a little about disappointment — both ours with God and His with us.
Jesus’ parable about the widow teaches that
I. GOD VALUES TRUSTING FAITH
Not just child-like faith, but persevering trust when everything seems backwards and upside-down. Faith that brings a miracle is a wonderful kind of faith, but what about the faith that believes in spite of unanswered prayer? Don’t forget what Jesus said to Thomas, "because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (Jn.20:29).
Some of the heroes in Heb.11 are remembered for their achievements, but others for their endurance. The writer recalls, "32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: 33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect" (Heb.11:32-40). Notice the pivotal change at verse 35.
The kind of faith God wants most cannot be grown in the easy-going times of life. In fact, it is not even developed in answered prayer. If he gave us all the miracles we want, we would be hooked on the miracles and hunger less for Him. When God showered the Israelites with miracles and awesome demonstrations of His power, they were terrified and asked Him not to come so near. They promised they would obey, if He would only speak through Moses. Nevertheless, only a few developed a committed love to God to stand in the face of difficulty and remain true to Him.
The kind of faith God wants most can only be developed through pain and suffering—the times when we are so puzzled with God, His hiddenness, His silence, His unfairness. As much as I do not like those times, I begin to see they provide a closeness to God, a sweetness in our lives, and a pleasure to the Divine Heart that nothing else can produce.
“But the question naturally rose in the mind of Jesus, ‘How much of such overcoming faith will I find when I return?’ ” (J. E. Turner, "The Bible School Book," 1912).
Since God values trusting faith, we can believe that
II. GOD IS DOING EVERYTHING HE CAN DO TO STRENGTHEN OUR FAITH
God does not simply hang over the banisters of heaven critically judging whether we are faithful. He walks beside us, weeps with us, lifts our spirits, tenderly measures the tribulation so it will never be more than we can bear, and hopes for us to make it! But He cannot interfere. That would ruin the very goal He is trying to accomplish. He yearns to fully satisfy our hunger. He desperately wants us to succeed, yet He keeps His distance.