“Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet.
Luke 18:6-8 (The Message)
Growing old is not for the weak.
This past summer, my partner and I were busy shuttling between Minnesota and Michigan to move my parents from their house of over 40 years to a senior housing apartment complex on the other side. It was getting difficult for my octogenerian parents to maneuver around the house. The neighborhood they lived in, on the northside of my hometown of Flint, Michigan had become more and more dicey, especially in the last few years as the auto industry imploded. Moving my parents allowed me to see how aging is not something for the weak. The independence that one had in their youth and middle ages is not as present. Your body just doesn’t work like it used to. You become more dependent on others. It’s just not easy to be elderly.
The gospel text for today involves a widow, a woman who was incredibly vulnerable in that society, and a judge that was more than a little shady. This woman who probably had little pride left, kept pressing the judge to grant her justice against an enemy. She basically wears down the judge until he does what she asks just to get her off his back.
Now, God isn’t the unjust judge. The point of this parable is not that you see God as some kind of holy Santa Claus that you pester until you get your way. I think this parable has more to do with how we live a life of faith.
We are asked to believe and walk in faith. But the road is not clear. We never know how the story will end. Like the widow, we must keep believing and pray persistently; not to get what we want, but because we have faith that God will answer in God’s time.
God’s time. That kind of sucks. Jesus talks about how God will listen to his children and grant them justice, but we know that sometimes our prayers aren’t answered- or at least they aren’t answered in our time or in the way we would like.
I think having the kind of persistent faith Jesus talks about is rather hard. And maybe that’s the point; trusting in God is rather tough business. Like growing old, it is something that leaves us rather vulnerable. I think God knows that having faith in God is hard, which is why I think we don’t have to do it alone. Maybe that’s one of the reasons we have churches- communities where we can bear each other and believe when others just can’t.
There’s an old African American gospel song whose lyrics include this passage: “He may not come when you want to, but he’s right on time.”
The life of faith can be hard. However, we know that God is faithful and will be with us, even in those days where God seems distant.
Faith is not for the weak. Thanks be to God that we don’t have to trust alone.