The other morning, I was sleepily reading the Bible when I came across a passage that made me set down my coffee and do a double take. But first, a little bit of context: Over the past few months, I have been engaged in a particularly intense advocacy push for immigration reform. (If this is your first time reading any of my blogs, or any G92 blog, here’s an article that summarizes my views on why the current system is broken, and why my faith compels me to care about fixing it).
On one hand, every day I come into contact with someone who is newly energized about being a part of the immigration reform movement, and discover new reasons to excitedly pour into the movement myself. But on the other hand, it is also true that being involved in an intense period of immigration reform advocacy can lead to fatigue for many Christians. In the wake of some potentially discouraging news on immigration reform, this past week has definitely served to remind us of the need to redouble our efforts – but it has also left me and my fellow advocates feeling a bit weary, and as if, despite our best attempts, perhaps our efforts are futile, and our requests are falling on deaf ears.
In the midst of my all-too-human fears that repeatedly speaking up for immigration reform was not making the slightest difference in terms of enacting policy change, imagine the jolt I got when I came across Luke 18:1-8. In this passage, Jesus tells a parable to His listeners featuring a poor widow and a powerful judge. The widow has a problem – well really, she has two problems. Her first problem is simply that she has a problem – she has an adversary from whom she needs protection. Her second problem is that the judge is not interested in doing his job – providing justice and doing what is right in the eyes of the law for this widow.
Day after day, night after night, the widow pestered this wicked judge, who did not fear God or people, to hear her case and do what she needed. Day after day, night after night, her request was denied. I don’t want to bring too much of my own conjecture into my reading of the passage, but human nature being what it is, I’m sure she felt dejected at times, and felt that her persistence was in vain. However, she did not let her doubts change her actions: Regardless of how she felt, she continued to petition the judge.
At long last, the judge – not because his heart was changed, but rather out of sheer annoyance – decided to grant her request. Interestingly enough, Jesus uses this widow as an example for believers. Can you see any parallels between her situation, and the situation of thousands of weary immigration reform activists who day after day hear in the news that “immigration reform is dead?”
When I read this parable, I take two things from it. The most important thing I take from it is what Jesus goes on to say, which is that this tale should inform the way we petition God. More on that later. First, however, I want to touch on the other lesson I learn from reading this parable relatively literally. The widow was finally granted her request after incessantly pestering her judge – an official of the law – to do what she asked. When I read this, I can’t help but apply this idea to my own situation. They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results. However, applying this biblical tale, I actually feel more encouraged than ever that, as opposed to insanity, continuing to persevere in our work (while doing so in a wise and tactically-sound way) is actually not only sane, but extremely wise. Simply put, I believe that if we are convinced of the legitimacy and the “rightness” of our cause, then we should not ultimately take “no” for an answer.
Secondly, I believe this parable should inform not just the way we interact with our governing officials, but the way we pray. I don’t know exactly how much of an exact parallel between the details of the parable and the details of our prayer life there is. For example, I’m not suggesting that God is like the unjust judge and will just answer our prayers because He is sick of listening to us; in fact, I think there are a lot of other Scriptural passages that say the opposite. However, I think the point of this parable is that if an unjust judge who could not have cared less about the widow was willing to ultimately grant justice for the wrong reasons, how much more so will God be willing to grant us our prayer requests for justice since He actually loves us? With that hope and knowledge in mind, I believe that Christians have even more reason to be like the widow and double down on our ceaseless petitions to God.
This passage also gives me hope when it comes to immigration reform! Jesus tells us that our prayers and belief must be like those of the widow, who continued presenting her case before the judge day after day, which leads me to believe that she had hope that she would eventually be successful. Jesus explicitly tells us that when it comes to prayers for justice, we too will be successful. Furthermore, He adds an adjective that should give Christians even more hope and incentive: “quickly.” Jesus says that God will definitely grant justice, and that He will do so quickly. Therefore, Christians who are praying and working for justice should be encouraged to continue being persistent, because we are assured that God will grant justice in a timely fashion.
This parable is exactly what I needed to hear when I read it – I’m thankful that God, in His timing, always provides what we need when we need it! While many news reports about immigration reform’s prospects are discouraging (although between the time I started writing this blog and the time I published it, there’s actually already been much more positive news emerging), I am actually more energized than ever and incredibly encouraged to continue persistently asking for immigration reform from both God and our legislators.
Daniel Watts graduated from Wheaton College in 2012 and is the G92 Coordinator. You can connect with him on Twitter at @DanielRWatts.
Please note that the views expressed do not necessarily represent those of everyone associated with G92 or any institutions with which the blogger may be affiliated.
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