Life is full of expectation and waiting. We’re always waiting for something!
- The weekend
- Seeing friends and family
- The release of a book or a movie or a video game
- The next season of The Mandalorian
- The end of COVID.
We’re always waiting for something to come. We can’t wait for what’s next. I often tell my kids, “Don’t wish your life away.” But it’s not just my kids looking forward to birthdays, next Christmas, or growing up. It’s all of us. Looking forward to stuff is what we do. Aren’t we all looking forward to when things will get better?
But isn’t it exactly like isn’t it so typically human of us—that we don’t look forward to what’s worth looking forward to more than anything?
The Pharisees asked Jesus a question in Luke 17:20. They ask him when is the kingdom of God going to come. And Jesus tells them that they won’t be able to predict it from outward signs. The only observable event that would take place that would take place was the Son of man suffering many things and being rejected by His generation (17:25). It’s immediately following Jesus’ explanation of this topic that Jesus launches into another parable. The parable of the unjust judge.
“In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary’ (Luke 18:2–3).
Jesus’ cast of characters includes a crummy judge—a judge who doesn’t give a hoot about what anyone thinks, including God. And then we have a widow who has been wronged. She’s the picture of helplessness, a woman on the fringe of society without any protection with no way to exert influence, pressure, or even produce a bribe. As Robert Capon put it, she was a “24-karat loser” because of her plight. Although God gave laws to protect widows, their poverty and mistreatment were all too common. So this widow brings her case before the judge. She has been wronged. And she approaches the judge with her plea for justice. And over a period of time, he doesn’t want to give her the time of day. He basically tells this helpless widow to go fly a kite. Until…he changes his mind. He says:
For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming” (Luke 18:4–5).
By her sheer persistence, the widow wears the judge down until he grants her the justice she was seeking. She’s a bother. She’s a pain. An annoyance. So he gives in and acts. Not out of his desire to obey God or execute justice or show compassion to someone in need. His reasons are purely selfish. He’s getting sick of her pestering him. He just wants her to go away. So he answers the widow’s plea. The end. Happy day for her. But then Jesus makes His point from this parable. Because you see, this crummy judge over a city and the righteous judge of the entire earth are very different. That’s the point Jesus is making when He says:
“Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? (Luke 18:6–7)
If the unjust judge would respond to the plea from the lowly—how much better will God act? He’s no unjust, selfish, grumpy judge. He will definitely respond to the cries of His own elect. If you are a Christian, you are His elect! That means He’s not going to ignore you. God’s not going to tell you to go fly a kite. He sovereignly chose you from the foundation of the world for His glory. And if God chose you for salvation, don’t you think He’s going to do what’s best for you? Don’t you think He cares about you and will give you justice? Don’t you think He will show compassion and act if one of His elect is crying out to Him day and night? He will. Without reluctance. Without hesitation. Without delay so far as God in His infinite wisdom and knowledge knows the timing in which to act. His patience in waiting to act—His patience in deciding when Christ is to return—it’s an act of His wonderful grace (2 Pet. 3:9).
So the demand isn’t for us to examine and evaluate how God is operating. The demand is for us to examine and evaluate ourselves. That’s how Jesus concludes this parable.
I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8)
Don’t make your concern whether or not God will do something. Concern yourself with your faith. A big part of the problem is our level of expectation. We’ve set our sights too low!
After the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus compared the coming kingdom to the days of Noah. The people living in Noah’s day were not prepared. They weren’t ready for judgment. They were so concerned with the temporal things of life: eating, drinking, and marriage. It was the same in Sodom. People were so consumed with eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, and building—that they were consumed with fire and sulfur from heaven. Like Lot’s wife, we fix our hearts all too easily on the material things of this world.
Are we so concerned with the things of this world, that our heart isn’t fixed on looking forward to God’ justice in the coming kingdom? When all suffering, pain, and injustice will be set right? We’re expectant people always looking forward to what’s next. But this is one area we’re not expectant enough. We see hurt and wronging. The going-ons around us concern us. What we see can discourage us. But if your response is to complain or rant, you’ve missed the point. If it’s worth crying out over, your response should be persistent prayer. The stuff that brings you worry and fear—if it’s genuine injustice, those things will be ultimately solved on the day the Lord Jesus brings final deliverance.
The question isn’t whether or not Christ will return and set things right. The question is whether or not we will trust Him to do what He says. What’s questionable is our response of faith. The real concern is that instead of trusting the Lord, we grow discouraged.
So respond with faith. Recognize that all is in God’s hands. Wait patiently for Him to do what is right. Respond with persistent prayer over your concerns and trust the Lord. Be faithful in prayer. God has great blessing in store for us—for His people. Don’t grow discouraged. Persist in prayer. Trust His timing. But also trust His justice. He’s no unjust judge. He will hear you. He will act. Everything will one day be set right. Things will get better. Look forward to the Lord’s return.
Photo by Valerie Blanchett on Unsplash.