When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8)
What does this mean? In this Gospel lesson we find a widow who has nothing with which to persuade her judge—and an unjust judge at that—to come to her aid. Nothing but perseverance. Why did she persevere? Two things—she had a deep need, as well as a belief that the judge, despite his lack of compassion, could meet that need. So she wore him out by coming and coming and coming, until she got what she wanted. Jesus calls that faith.
In the Old Testament we find something similar. In Genesis 32, Jacob wrestles with this mysterious man, who he comes to understand as God. And, strangely enough, Jacob prevails. How did he prevail? Simply by hanging on. Told to let go, Jacob refuses: “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” And the man blessed him. Like the woman before the judge, Jacob’s stubborn persistence—his refusal to let go—won him what he sought.
We live in a profoundly unjust culture, where the vulnerable—whether the unborn or handicapped or elderly or poor or alone—can easily find themselves at risk of death. Legal death. Injustice is bad enough. Injustice sanctioned by law is far worse. So what do we do? We persevere. To be sure, we engage this unjust world, but, more, we engage God who at times seems to be far removed from the cries of vulnerable widows who have nowhere else to turn. Yet God is not an unjust judge. Rather, he is the “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows” (Psalm 68:5). How much more can we expect God to answer as we persist in petitioning him for the widow and the fatherless?
When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth? Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things unseen. We walk by faith, not by sight. Jesus told the parable of the unjust judge so that his disciples would pray. It may take a long time. It already has. Yet, we pray.