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The parable of the persistent widow is not about a nagging woman, it is a parable about faith, and Christ is encouraging us to never stop believing in God’s faithfulness or give up.
The parable begins in Luke 18:2: "There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man," A God fearing widow lived in the judge's city, and she had a problem. Someone had taken advantage of her and she was unable to settle the matter by herself, so she came before the judge and pleaded for justice.
It seems she made multiple trips to the judge to plead for help, but he wouldn't listen. Time went by, but the widow was persistent. Eventually the judge became exasperated and decided he would hear her case and dispense the needed justice just to get rid of her. The judge finally heard her case and issued his ruling in favor of the widow. The woman returned to her home, having learned a valuable lesson about not giving up.
Jesus then makes the point of the parable in verses 7 and 8: "And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"
An important point in the parable lies in the question, "Will He really find faith on the earth?" The persistent widow had faith, and through this example Christ is showing us to be persistent in our walk with God — to not give up or stop believing. God hears, although we may think there is a "delay" in God answering our prayers. Christ said God "will avenge them speedily" and He is always right on time—His time.
In Luke 18:1 Christ tells us the reason for the parable: "Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart." The widow didn't lose heart, just as we are to keep going to God in prayer for our needs. God is just and fair and will answer our prayers (Matthew 7:7-11). It's up to us to keep coming back to His throne of justice and mercy and keep asking. God is acutely aware of our trials and problems and always responds in a way and when it is best for us.
This is what the story of a persistent widow teaches us about prayer and faith and not losing heart. We can lose a lot in this life, but don't ever think of letting your heart be lost to despair and unbelief. Guard your heart. Be persistent like the widow going to a human judge, believing truth and justice will win in the end. We are assured that God will finish the work He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).
Beyond Today Magazine (Mar-Apr 2023)