Today, I would like to take the liberty of speaking about something that is not directly linked to our theme for this year; even so, I believe it to be important. 1st John 2:6 says, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” Paul would call it being “imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1). There are numerous things that distract us from this endeavor, one of them being that “sinful nature” (NKJV says, flesh) that wars against the Spirit within (Galatians 5:17). Another, that which I wish to consider today, is the feeling of discouragement. One person described discouragement as “dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future.” The dictionary defines discourage this way, to deprive of courage, hope, or confidence.
Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart…
Of course, you know I like to define words, and this time with good reason. As Jesus seeks to prepare His disciples for the work in the kingdom, He shares a parable with them concerning prayer and this idea of losing heart (KJV says, faint). It means to be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, exhausted. Paul cautioned the church in Galatia regarding such weariness “while doing good” and its potential of resulting in losing heart (Galatians 5:9). People neglecting…people objecting…people rejecting! Discouragement is often very real. So, what is one to do? The parable begins…
Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him,
saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ – Luke 18:3
The story speaks of an uncaring judge and a tenacious widow who was encountering injustice. She went before the judge continuously, seeking justice. She did so because she knew he was the only one capable of bringing resolution. Eventually the judge would reason, “because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me” (Luke 18:5). How does this help to keep discouragement from taking hold? One person said it this way, “If an unrighteous judge would answer the persistent petitions of an insignificant widow, how much more would a loving God answer the continuous cries of his elect.”
Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
Jesus ends this lesson with the above words, which remind us that prayer, one of the weapons we can use to fight against discouragement, is intimately linked to faith. As I thought about this, I remembered a verse often quoted by Matt Sampson, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1st Peter 5:6-7). Believing that God is mighty, that He does care for me and that He will bring me through to the end, can help to fight against discouragement. Lord, maybe my prayer needs to be, “Please Lord, increase my faith.”