In our world today we have become used to instant everything, from instant coffee to instant delivery of almost whatever we want. But with God, things may take time. Indeed, the transformation of our baptism can take a very long time, time and perseverance.
The Hebrew people believed in God’s justice, but they struggled with what they saw around them every day, the wicked prospering while the faithful ones were suffering. Over 300 years BC Malachy, the last of the Prophets, forcefully reminded the people that God’s justice will be done in the end, “But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.”
Jesus talks about prayer. Prayer is not a gimme gimmick. It’s not like putting coins in the slot and then pulling the lever hoping for an instant jackpot, as I have seen too many do. We don’t say, God, gimme this, gimme that, expecting immediate delivery. Prayer is transformative when we persevere, and, as we continue waiting on the Lord, layers of our selfish concerns are peeled away by the action of the Spirit.
I feel sorry for the family man who had his door barred for the night, long since in bed with all his kids, in the customary one big family bed. And then the neighbour is hammering on the door wanting bread for a late-night visitor. Jesus paints a picture of our human reluctance to move to give in, to put ourselves out for others. This gentleman surely had a good heart, and he would have been more than happy to help out his neighbour if he’d come in the daytime. But he came in the night. We too may find ourselves overwhelmed by our troubles and needing help at inconvenient times. Jesus is saying, turn to God and persevere. Don’t give up. Our merciful Lord will not allow us to go empty-handed if only we continue, if only we keep on with our prayer if only, we never lose heart.
Lord Jesus, give me a heart captivated by your love that never gives up.
Jeff Foale is an Australian Passionist living in Vietnam, a former New Guinea missionary with a passion for service of the poor and refugees and who loves life in all its forms and enjoys photography.