Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 122; 149, Micah 7:1-7, Revelation 10:1-11, Luke 11:1-13
What is the difference between being persistent and being stubborn?
Jesus told his disciples a parable about a man who went to his friend’s house in the middle of the night to ask for three loaves of bread to share with an unexpected visitor. Because it was so late, the friend tried many excuses to turn the man away and stay in bed. In the end, Jesus said, the man got his bread not because of friendship but because of persistence. Jesus continued to say:
Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
Taken alone that last bit almost seems like a magic formula – just ask for what you want, and you’ll get it. Of course we know it doesn’t work out that way in real life. But just because we don’t get something right away doesn’t mean we should stop asking. Yes, God hears you the first time, but your persistence isn’t about changing God: it’s about changing you.
Jesus tells his disciples that when a child asks for an egg or a fish, a good parent doesn’t give them a scorpion or a snake. Better and more holy than the best of parents, God wants us to have things that are good for us. But what if the child, not knowing what adults know, asks for a scorpion? Or grabs for it? The good parent doesn’t allow it to happen. Eventually the child either grows more wise or gets stung.
And therein lies the difference.
With persistence comes growth and wisdom. God does not change, but our understanding does. Maybe we aren’t ready, maybe we don’t need it, and maybe we learn to live with not knowing. With stubbornness there is no change. We keep insisting on getting we want, and never learn to ask if we should. Both may result in getting what we ask for, but is it the egg or the scorpion?
Comfort: God wants only good for you.
Challenge: Make a list of the things you are asking God for, but have not yet received. Honestly evaluate whether you are being stubborn or persistent about each.
Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the strength to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.
Discussion: Today’s reading from Luke begins with a short version of The Lord’s Prayer. How do you think this is related to today’s topic?
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