Day 5 of 31 Days of Hope-filled Living. To start over with Day 1, click here.
One day Jesus taught the apostles to keep praying and never stop or lose hope.-Luke 18:1
Sometimes our hope is failing and the only way to get through is to pray through.
The Greek word at the end of this verse is ekkakeó, which means to “to be negatively influenced with the outcome of experiencing inner weariness”, to faint, grow weary, or to lose heart. The single word encompasses both English words: lose hope. Essentially, Jesus thought it was important to teach His followers the importance of persistent prayer and enduring hope. One was inextricably linked to the other, and He ended his admonition-parable with this question:
“But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on earth who have faith?”– Luke 18:8
The implication was that not everyone who could have put their trusting hope in Jesus would actually hold onto it until the End, when He would return.
The parable He told in between those two phrases holds a key for all of us who follow Jesus: don’t give up, even when you don’t get what you want; keep praying in faith and hopefulness. The way He explained this concept was to tell a story about an unfair judge and a persistent widow. Because the woman kept going back to the judge for justice over and over again, he finally granted it to her, just to get her to stop coming around. And His point was that God is infinitely more kind and fair, and yet He might NOT grant everything we hope for right away, so keep asking. Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Not that you’re bothering Him or He’s being unfair, but sometimes the prayer that gets answered is the one prayed for the long haul.
This woman did two things that Jesus wanted His disciples to emulate:
1. She believed in justice and wasn’t ashamed to ask for it, despite what she knew of the judge.
2. She didn’t lose hope that one day her request would be granted, even though it took longer than she wished.
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words — And never stops at all.”-Emily Dickinson
I once read a story about a young woman named Maya from the brothels of India’s Red Light District whose mother had been trafficked since the age of eleven. Maya’s own mother was forced to turn her daughter into the madam also when she came of age, and Maya had been abused and raped as a child in the hostel where her mother sent her to live, thinking it would be safer than the brothel. Maya was trafficked for sex until she could take no more and escaped from her captors and abusers. When she sought refuge in a Christian safe house, she was hopeless and numb. She didn’t picture a bright future; she was merely trying to get away from her traumatic past. But when compassion from the volunteers at the home began to warm her heart, hope awakened. She wondered if she’d always feel so terrible, and the volunteer replied, “You will always remember, but in time it won’t hurt as much. Keep giving your pain to Jesus and ask Him to help you forgive those who have hurt you.” Maya wasn’t convinced, but she didn’t lose the spark of hope that was struck. After many weeks and months in the safe home, Maya began to smile and her dead eyes came to life. She found hope in scriptures like Ezekiel 36:25-27 and Isaiah 54:4, and took healing and joy from the love and hope she had found in Jesus Christ.
Maybe like Maya or like the widow who had to keep pleading for justice, you’ve found yourself waiting a very long time and now you’re feeling weary. Maybe it feels like the hope that was once a flame is a dying and cold ember and you’re losing heart, numb and hopeless. Hang on, Dear Reader, you’re not alone. I’ve been there too, and it does feel miserable to have to keep asking without any sign that your dream will come to pass. I believe Jesus would say this to you: I know it’s hard, but don’t stop asking. Don’t give up, because the answer is on the way. Hang on just a little longer and stay faithful to what you know is the Father’s love.
Hope How-to: If you’re feeling weary and hopeless today, let me give you some courage to ask once more again in prayer to the Father for help. If you’ve felt weary before, and you saw God come through in the eleventh hour, or even in a way that you didn’t expect but that was wonderful anyway, ponder on that time in your life and how you felt. Have a heart to heart with Jesus or another close friend about those emotions and circumstances. Risk the vulnerability required to connect with someone about that weariness on the verge of losing heart, of losing hope. Don’t hold it in, Dear One. You’re not meant to face it alone.
Prayer: Sweet Jesus, I ask you on behalf of my reader to give her the strength to keep praying, keep asking, and keep hoping, even when it feels like she’s about to lose heart. We know that You taught Your friends to pray through every difficult and unfair situation, and keep asking without losing hope. Jesus, You know what it feels like to endure hardship while keeping your eyes on hope. Give my reader the guidance and ability to follow your example. Thank you for always hearing our persistent prayers and for answering them in Your perfect timing. Amen.
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Thanks for joining me in the Nest today,