3/24/2020 – The Parable of the Persistent Widow
Passage: Luke 18:1-8
Written By: Kristin and Wesley Wells – U of A Wesley Donors and U of A Wesley Alumnus
In our home it’s a running joke: we are great at buying books. We fill our Amazon cart to the brim, use our hard-earned money to purchase them, and when they arrive, we excitedly open the box and then neatly place them on our bookshelf. We want an incredible library of resources—books about a variety of subjects, including several about activism and hope that we can be part of the change the world needs based on the example of Jesus Christ. They seem to collect an obscene amount of dust before we ever flip open the cover—but man, do they look good sitting on that shelf. The rhythm of sitting down to read them—we’re still mastering that.
A couple years ago, Wesley purchased one of those books. “Just Mercy” is a book by Bryan Stevenson—a black lawyer who represents inmates on death row in a racist community. I read the back panel of the book and was quickly swept into the story. I’ve never read a book so quickly, and when the story was made into a movie, Wesley and I were the first to buy tickets at our local theater. I was not only interested in who Bryan Stevenson was, but also who these inmates were. These inmates were considered the lowest of the low, and Stevenson fought on their behalf.
The scripture reading for today clearly talks about the character of the widow going before a judge who is not working on her behalf. Just like an inmate on death row, the widow would be considered the lowest of the low. In fact, in Jewish society there were seven classes, and widows would be seen as the lowest class thought of in the same way as beggars and prostitutes. The widow represents someone who is voiceless, poor, and defenseless. It is easy to note the persistence of the widow and understand the message of this parable as persistence. If the cries of the persistent widow for justice were finally acknowledged by the unjust judge, how much more will a just God acknowledge God’s children’s cries for justice? God is calling us to be persistent in prayer. The unjust judge is a character in this parable who is meant to directly contrast the character of God who in Psalm 68:5 is referred to as, “a defender of widows.”
Sometimes we find ourselves in trying situations where we need be reminded that persistence in prayer is important. Persistence in prayer creates an intimacy with God even in moments that we feel at our lowest. But I think more often than not, we are not just the widow in this story needing to cast our burdens on God and cry out for justice on our own behalf. Rather, we are also ambassadors of God’s Kingdom—a representation of the character of God to the world—a world that is voiceless, poor, and defenseless. Just as Jesus came to bring hope to the hopeless, God is calling us to be a voice to those in our society that have no voice, no resources, and no one to plead their cause. In this Lenten season, spend some time reflecting on those who may not have a voice and how you can be an advocate for them.