Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
Generally, persistence is a good thing; we see it as a virtue. However, depending on the cause that is being pursued, we sometimes see persistence as a vice. For instance, the tiny voice that keeps saying, “Daddy, I want a drink of water!” is persistence personified, but after a while, its cuteness vanishes from sight! That must have been how it was in the case with blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10.46-52). Time and time again he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The more he cried, the more the multitudes tried to silence him. They saw persistence as a vice; Jesus saw it as a virtue!
In one of the parables, Jesus tells of a persistent widow (Luke 18.1-8) who obtained her petitions from an unrighteous judge as a result of her persistence. Eventually, the judge gave in to the repeated pleas of the woman and avenged her adversaries as she had asked. Jesus commends the attitude of the woman. In this parable, Jesus paints a picture of the heart of faith. In fact, the haunting question is asked at the close of the parable, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Faith is the focus of the passage.
And so it was with Bartimaeus. His knowledge that Jesus had healed others was doubtless behind his pleas. Faith without evidence (i.e. blind faith) isn’t faith at all. Faith, true biblical faith, is firmly rooted in evidence. Hence, when Jesus honored the cries of Bartimaeus, He honored the faith that he possessed. Faith is, by definition persistent. Consider Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah and the renowned prophets of the previous eras. Their persistence paid dividends in the then present world as well as in the one to come. God honored their persistence in prayer. If the cause is just, God will certainly not rebuff the petitioner!
Bartimaeus apparently believed this of Jesus. His father was Timaeus, not Timidity! The vice that the multitudes saw was the virtue that captured the attention of Jesus. How often we give up on God because He does not operate on our timetable! We ask a few times and then cease because it seems that our prayers are not being heard. Peter assured his readers that the attention of the Righteous Judge was not the issue. God’s purposes are beyond finding out! Unbeknown to us, sometimes He waits for the benefit of others (2 Peter 3.8-10). The Righteous Judge is not obliged to explain what He does, but He has obligated Himself to hear the cries of His children (e.g. Hebrews 7.26-27).
The lesson – if the cause is just, shrink not from continually petitioning God. Who knows but that He tests you through His appearance of indifference to your prayers? Perhaps, just perhaps, the very next request is the one that will tip the scales in your favor. Have the persistence of Bartimaeus!
1. Why did Bartimaeus cry out?
2. Why did some want him stop crying out?
3. How did Jesus' reaction differ from the reaction of His followers?
4. Was Jesus annoyed by the persistence of Bartimaeus?
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