I was reading Luke 18 this morning. What I read today resonated with a conversation I had with a woman last night at a parish dinner. She spoke of the struggle of faith and the prevalence of doubt among believers.
Jesus tells a story (18:1) which Luke says is meant to show us that we must pray constantly. There is a widow who comes to a judge for justice. In ancient cultures (ours too) widows, orphans and foreigners are especially vulnerable to the rich and powerful. They are easily abused and have limited access to the support they need to get what is due them. The Jewish Law (Torah) is explicit that God demands justice for the "poor." The Judge, however, does not care about his duties. The woman has no where else to turn. She is alone. All she has is her willingness to pester the Judge. She does not give up.
In the Greek the Judge literally says, "I do not care about God or men, but this woman may give me a black eye." The image of the woman attacking the Judge is no doubt meant to be comical (although in light of the masacre in Arizona yesterday we also know that public official are at risk). In the end, out of self centeredness and for his own benefit, the Judge decided to give her justice.
Jesus then says that we can learn from this. The Greek is a little tricky but it seems to be saying that while God bears our suffering for a while, He will act quickly (in the sense of decisively and powerfully) for those who remain faithful. But then Jesus asks a question. "When the Son of Man returns will He find any faith?"
Will He? Jesus seems to wonder if any of us will be willing, like the widow, to cry out to God with perseverance. It is interesting that Jesus asks such a question. Apparently, the doubt and uncertainty of our own age is not a new thing. It seems in ancient Israel Jesus confronted the same issue.
Sadly, all of us are in need of justice. We have all suffered and been victims. Sadder still, all of us are also perpetrators. There are others who cry out to God because of what we have done. God delays in bringing justice but Jesus says we have to wait and hope and trust. The day is coming. When it does come, it will be Quick! But Jesus asks the question, "Who will be waiting for it? Trusting God for it? Who?"
If you have doubts, join the club. But doubts are not a result of our being more modern and advanced. Doubt is older than civilization! Jesus calls you to trust. To pray regularly and earnestly and (yes!) HONESTLY. God will hear and God will act.