When I was eight years old, I wanted a dog. I wanted a dog so bad that it took all I had to focus on anything else. Every day I would tell my parents how much I wanted one. After all, everyone I knew had a dog. My friends had dogs, my neighbors had dogs, and my grandparents had a dog. It seemed like I was the only person in the world that didn’t have a dog! Even though I have good and loving parents, they weren’t going to give in to my every demand.
One day, instead of saying I “wanted” a dog over and over again, I said to my parents that, “I NEED a dog!” Finally, it was realized that my childhood request for a pet was not just a simple want or desire, but it had actually turned into a need. A dog may have actually been something that I needed in life! Finally, my persistence paid off and we went to get a family dog. She was a yellow Labrador with a pink nose and her name was Cinnamon. She lived twelve good years as a loyal pet.
While my persistence in this case was for the worldly desire of having a pet dog, Jesus teaches us about the need to be persistent as disciples. In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells us a parable about a widow that had to be persistent. She was seeking justice from a judge that “neither feared God nor had respect for people” (Luke18:2). Over and over again, this widow would come to this judge and ask him to grant justice for her. However, the judge would ignore her requests. Finally, the widow’s persistence paid off and the judge ruled in her favor.
Jesus goes on to say that God will be just when we are persistent. When we stay to the discipline of prayer, God will hear us and offer an answer. But this can be hard. We know that not all of our prayers are answered. Even when we remain steadfast in prayer, even when we don’t give up hope, and even when we pray without ceasing, sometimes it seems as though our prayers are barely making it as high as the ceiling.
It can be frustrating and we sometimes stop and wonder why we even continue to be persistent in prayer. We all know that life can be hard! Challenges and hardships come our way and it makes us feel defeated. We pray for justice and peace yet it feels like little is done to bring about these things.
There’s change that needs to happen but we just don’t have the patience for the slow work of God.
Jesus knows all about this struggle we face. Christ was both fully human while also fully divine, walking among us in our journey through life, so he knows the struggles we face. He knows that life is difficult, that we will face suffering, and that we often go through this journey with prayers unanswered.
That is why in Scripture Christ gives us this message encouraging our persistence. Christ urges us to not give up hope, to not give up faith, to not give up seeking peace and justice, and to not give up prayer. We ought not to give up because just living in this way of faithful persistence and seeking God is counter-cultural to the secular ways of the world. This is because it shows we are not relying on ourselves but we are relying on God. We are not seeking comfort and ease in life for ourselves, rather we have concern for the needs and wellbeing of other people.
Above all as Christians, we should be persistent in hope, faith, and prayer because God is going to be persistent in reaching out to us, welcoming us, and forgiving us. We know this because our Savior Jesus Christ lived and died and rose from death so that we would be forgiven and so that we would know the persistent love of God. When we are persistent in reaching out to God, when we are persistent in faith and prayer, when we say that peace and justice are not just things we want but things we need, the glory and presence of God will become more and more clear to us. May this make it on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
Peace and love, Pastor Adam