The Real Question
And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
~ Luke 18:6-8
Few situations feel worse than being wronged by someone. It is the nature of all relationships—they have the power to heal and also to harm. Sometimes the people you love the most end up being the ones who hurt you. Sometimes it is the callous disregard of a stranger. We have no choice but to trust people, and that can result in harm to us. It's part of life.
I've been there a few times. I've cried out to God for justice over how I was being treated. I couldn't keep from thinking about it; I let myself be controlled by resentment. It's hard to hear God in those times, and if he doesn't step in to make things right, it's easy to grow bitter. I remember thinking, at one low point, “Why do I even bother to pray if you don't care about me, Lord?”
When prayers go unanswered, it's hard to envision that God may have his own timing about these things. In our pain, we may grow defensive and give up. We may doubt his goodness. Each day we go to him and he doesn't come through feels like more rejection.
We also live in a culture of immediate gratification. If we can't get what we want, the moment we want it, we lose patience and try something else. We treat God like he's Amazon.com—always available to provide exactly what we need, at the moment we need it. If we can't get what we want, we assume it doesn't exist at all and try something different.
In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells a parable of a widow who nags a judge incessantly until he finally gives her the justice she asks for. He doesn't intend by this to suggest we can annoy God with our prayers to the point where he finally does what we ask. Our cries for justice don't irritate him, and he isn't going to do what he doesn't intend to, regardless. Jesus' point is that if even an unjust judge would do what is right purely to end the widow's appeals, how much more will our heavenly Father respond to the cries of the children he loves dearly?
The question isn't whether God loves us, or whether he will deliver justice and work all things out in his timing. He does, and he will. The real question is whether we will be faithful as we wait for him to do so.
The only way we can show God we trust him is by actually doing it. It's all fine to say we have faith, but in the end, faith is not a profession from our lips, but the response of our lives. Trust means being willing to wait. It means placing our cares into his hands and following him, no matter what. We may not see justice, and when it comes, it may not be what we expect. It may take a long time. If we trust God, though, we know that he loves us and will not let injustice stand. He will defend his chosen ones. The injustice we experience in our lives, and the injustice which thrives on the earth, will all ultimately be put to rest.
Trusting him means forgiving what has been done to us. It means releasing bitterness and returning mistreatment with love. It means obeying him and not finding a quick way out of our pain. It means being willing to pray as long as it takes, to show him that we submit to his timing and yearn to agree in our hearts with his purposes.
When the Son of Man comes back, will he find faith on the earth? That's the real question. Jesus doesn't sound as hopeful in Luke 18:8 as we might have expected. An even bigger question presents itself. Will he find faith in me? This is the only question I can answer. It is the question you can answer for yourself, as well. Trust the Lord with your life. He will make all things right. Obey him as you wait patiently for that day.
Help me to wait patiently for you, O Lord. Give me the faith to trust you no matter what life brings. Bring justice against those who would harm me. Keep my eyes on you as you lead me through the difficulties I face. Amen.
~ Michael Cranford has a heart for equipping others to follow Christ in today's world. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the University of California at Irvine, a Master of Divinity from Talbot School of Theology, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Religion and Social Ethics from the University of Southern California. Visit his website at OneSteadfast.com and follow him on Twitter at @OneSteadfast and Facebook.