Don't Give Up - Lessons from a Desperate Widow
“And [Jesus] told a story for this reason, that men ought always to pray, and not to lose heart; Saying,
There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
And he would not for a while: but afterward he said to himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth? "
God knows our tendency to get discouraged from time to time. He knows we can lose heart when it seems like He's ignoring our prayers. That’s why Jesus told this story - to remind us to keep choosing faith.
You may think some people just have greater faith than you, when more likely the truth is that some people just exercise a little more. When you're quitting the 'faith gym' and turning flabby, there are those who are willing to endure the strenuous exercise and build that muscle.
So how can you build your own faith muscle?
1. Feed Your Muscles with the Word
Do you really want to grow? Get in the Word. Download the Bible app and listen to it before bed. Lift your heart to God and look to Him to help you to understand and know how to apply what you're learning.
Choose a single verse to meditate on throughout the day. Write it on a sticky note and post it somewhere you can see it. I have the words from John 15:5 on my wall which says,
"I am the vine, you are the branches. He that abides in me and I in Him, the same brings forth much fruit, for without me you can do nothing."
When I see it, I often lift up my heart to God and ask Him to help these words become reality in my life. I am reminded that my job is not to try to make things happen. My job is to rest in Him.
Do you see the pattern? I see the Word, the Word feeds my faith and enables me to look to Jesus for help.
Whatever way it takes, get into and meditate on the Word.
2. Endure the Exercise
The late George Mueller is a wonderful testimony of faith. He decided (after bringing the idea to God first) to start an orphanage and care for it without asking for help. Ever.
Think about that. No solicitations. No letting other Christians know when the food was gone or land was needed or clothes were lacking. He wanted to rely on God alone to see and supply the need.
And God did. Over and over and over again.
People thought Mueller was able to do this because he was given special faith by God, but Mueller greatly disliked that idea. Instead, he insisted his faith had just been exercised more. In other words, he was willing to endure difficulties to the point where if God didn't come through, all would be lost.
Usually, we're not that tough. We tend to give up and take the easy route instead of enduring.
Oh well... I guess God isn't working in my family. Oh well... finances are tight so I guess I won't give that tithe. Oh well...
I'm not talking about being foolish and trying to force God to do something He never intended. I'm talking about following through on what He's led you to do and holding Him to His Word. When we're really seeking God and want His glory (not just trying to strong-arm Him into a magic trick), we need to wait. Don't jump ship. Stick through what He led you to do.
So when you feel led of God to do something, don't be surprised when the trials come. The book of James tells us that God will test our faith because it's so precious to Him.
3. God Is Better than a Cranky Judge
In the rest of the story, Jesus makes a contrast between the judge and the Father.
If the selfish judge finally listened to the widow just because he didn't want to deal with her anymore, how much more will the Father listen to His own children?
That contrast is so encouraging to me. Whereas some people will do things only if we bother them to death, God wants eagerly to do things through and for His children. He's generous and thoughtful.
The Father doesn't always act right away; sometimes He may seem a little slow to move. But in this parable, He's showing us that in the right time and in the best way, He will act.
So don't give up. Keep seeking God's face.