Don’t Lose Heart

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

His answer to your prayer is coming.

Our ministry receives letters from many Christians who have somehow lost heart. These are followers of Christ who have truly been saved. They’ve tasted the mercy and goodness of the Lord and experienced joy, peace, hope and gladness of heart. Then something happened; they fell into some kind of sin or compromise, and the joy of the Lord left them. Now they live in turmoil and fear, completely defeated.

When you talk to these dear ones, you realize their hearts are still toward the Lord. They’re not really mad at God – they haven’t totally rejected him – but they’re convinced, “I can’t make it.” They’re loaded with guilt and living with condemnation. They have lost heart.

Once after a prayer service, I was approached by a precious young man. He said, “Pastor, I love Jesus, but I’m really being tested.” He pulled off his hat to show me a big scar on his shaven scalp. He had been operated on for a brain issue.

He opened his Bible to an underlined verse, and he stumbled over the words. “My verse is found in First Cappalonians...” The verse he read was 1 Corinthians 10:13. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (NKJV).

When the young man finished reading, he fell to his knees, raised his hands and cried, “Hallelujah for that verse!” My heart melted. This dear young man carried his Bible with that underlined verse as if his life depended on it. I laid my hands on him and prayed, “Oh, God, put a wall around him and keep him.” Beaming a big smile, he told me, “I know Jesus is going to make a way for me.” He kept his finger on that passage in Corinthians. He was going to face the world with one Bible verse. That young man will not lose heart because his heart is on Jesus and his eternal Word.

Jesus tells a story in Luke about a widow who kept coming to an unjust judge for justice.

I believe Christ’s parable of the persistent widow is one of the greatest sources of hope and assurance for those seeking deliverance. In it, the widow wanted help against “her adversary.” Likewise, we need deliverance from the adversary who wants to destroy our hope: Satan.

This parable gives us ironclad proof that God has pledged to keep and deliver all of his trusting children from the power of the devil. The widow had no power to deliver herself from her adversary; she had to have the judge’s help. We also need a judge, one who hears and answers every cry of our heart.

According to Luke, the purpose of Jesus’ parable was to encourage us not to lose heart or give up. “Then he spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

The woman Jesus describes is called the “importunate” widow. This word means “insistent, unceasing begging; harassing, troublesome, like a bulldog who won’t quit.” Apparently, someone had cheated this widow, and she had to have justice. If she didn’t get it, she would be robbed of her inheritance and have to live out her days in poverty and suffering. So, she determined to show up at the judge’s court every day.

The judge was an evil, ruthless, merciless man. He refused to even hear her case. Yet every day when he arrived at court, there stood the widow outside the door. She implored him, “Judge, what about my case? I need justice. You must do something!” 

Day after day, she was ignored. She did not lose heart, however; she simply would not quit. In fact, every day, her voice grew louder and more persistent. “I am not leaving until I get justice. I will be here every time these doors open. Judge, hear my plea!” 

That judge must have dreaded going to court every day. The widow was probably aware of whenever he came and went. He might have tried to sneak through the back door, yet he saw her there too. She may have even followed him home, persistently telling him, “Judge, you know my situation is unfair. It’s not right for you to ignore me! I won’t give you any rest, even if I have to sit in front of your house. I cannot let you go until you deliver me from this legal mess. I won’t let this devilish man rob me of my inheritance. I am going to get action!”

Eventually, the judge gave in. He grew weary of her coming every day and her loud, restless petitioning. Finally, he decided, “yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by
her continual coming she weary me” (Luke 18:5).

This story is not about an unjust judge but about “continual coming.”

The widow represents both the church and individual believers and how we are supposed to be. It is about holding on in persistent, daily prayer until God answers.

This parable also contains a message of deliverance if we will only see it. Jesus is showing us the “way of escape” from temptation that Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 10:13. That way of escape is to pray and keep praying. Jesus was saying, “If you sin, fall or grieve God, don’t shut him out. Don’t wallow in fear and guilt. Don’t spend your time analyzing how you did it or why. Get back to praying! Get back to desperately calling on your merciful Father. Seek him for your victory. Call on his name day after day.”

Simply put, Jesus told us to pray our way to victory. He was saying to pray with feeling and persistence and not to lose heart. If an unjust judge can be moved to action by one lowly person’s persistent, continual coming to him, how much more will our loving Father be moved by our persistence with him? “Then the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge his own elect who cry out day and night to him, though he bears long with them?’” (Luke 18:6-7).

Jesus was saying, in essence, “Won’t your heavenly Father protect and deliver his own elect? You are his son, his daughter, part of his family; you belong to him. He cares; he sympathizes. He has tender, loving concern; and he will not allow the devil to bring down one of his own.”

At one point in the widow’s life, it looked as if her adversary was prevailing. Has this happened to you? Think of your unsaved loved ones. Can you count how many tears you’ve shed over them, how many hours you’ve prayed? God is bearing long with you in your request. He is also bearing long with that lost loved one.

Why the delay? Why do your prayers seem not to prevail? It is because God is faithfully working on those lost ones. Perhaps he is bringing them into necessary hardships and despair. He may be waiting for them to get sick and tired of it all.

Has your cry and prayer been delayed? Does it seem as if your deliverance will never come? God has a very good reason, and you may not know it until we get to glory. He will delay until he sees that everything he wills is accomplished.

When God’s answer comes, it arrives quickly.

Too many Christians give up early, thinking, “It’s no use, my prayers are not heard. I don’t see any evidence that I’m getting through.” Jesus replied, “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily” (Luke 18:8). This verse does not say “soon” but “speedily,” meaning “suddenly.” When God’s answer comes, it comes instantly, in a millisecond.

Jesus was saying something very important to us here. He was telling us, “When your heavenly Father sees the time has come to answer, he will act suddenly. It will all happen in an instant.”

Sadly, many times the answer comes after we have lost heart. Jesus asked his disciples, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). This question has to do with more than the Lord’s return to the earth. Jesus was also talking about answers to our prayers. He was saying, essentially, “The day is coming when all your prayers will be answered in an instant. Will you be expecting me then? When I come to deliver you, will I find you still holding fast in faith, persistent in prayer? Or will you have lost heart?”

Has there been a time when you gave up on your petition to God? Did you lose heart and say, “It must not be God’s will. I guess it will never happen” only to discover later that the Lord was on his way with your answer?

I know what it is like to be brought to deep regret because I didn’t hold out in faith and gave up too soon. I turned to my own strategies, moving ahead in my flesh instead of trusting God. How foolish I felt. I thought, “Oh, Lord, if I had only held out a little longer. You were in the process of answering, and I quit on you.”

Give him your burden right now, whatever it is. Pray like the widow, “God, I’m not going to give you any rest. You’re going to save my son, my daughter, my spouse, my friend. I’m going to keep coming to you until you answer. One day, my problem will be answered overnight, in an instant. I believe and trust you, and I won’t give you any rest until it happens.”

Don’t lose heart; he is faithful. Your answer is coming!