‘ I spied a spider climbing by his webb to the height of an trie and at 12 several times I perceived his web broke, and the spider fel to the ground. But the 13 tyme he attempted and clambe the tree”
The above story is attributed to Sir James the Black in David Hume’s biography. However it is very similar to a story in Sir Walter Scott’s account of the life of Robert the Bruce. The moral however is the same; “If first you don’t succeed try again”
The reason a spider will keep at it till he succeeds (or dies) is probably because he has a short memory he thinks that each attempt is his first so he’s not put off by the previous failures. It would be good to be able to forget past failures and disappointments but sadly they so often plague our attitude towards everything we do and create in us a desire to give up or not even try.
I think this is why we are often so hesitant about sharing our faith. Jesus warned us that it would be a painstaking, frustrating business requiring lots of practise, prayer and perseverance. He also taught us that it was a team effort some would sow with tears, others would reap with joy.
I am particularly encouraged by his story about the persistent widow (Luke 17). She really had her work cut out for her. She wanted justice and could only appeal to a hopelessly corrupt judge who cared nothing for her or for justice. He had no respect for God nor it seems, did he care what men thought of him. It went without saying that he had little compassion for the less fortunate like this widow.
The point is that there was not the slightest good in him that she could appeal to. All she could do was to be an irritation that he had to eventually remove, and he did. She got her justice by simply becoming a pain in his neck that he got so tired of that he had to give her the justice she deserved.
By way of contrast, Jesus reminds us that God loves justice and he loves his children and we now know that he loved so much that he allowed his own dear Son to die right in front of his eyes on an appalling cross for them. He hardly needs convincing to do what is right and he is unlikely to need instructions on compassion.
So we don’t need to wheedle or annoy him into helping us. He will come quickly when we call upon him. However he does encourage us to be persistent in prayer for those that we love and for those that we want to see in the kingdom. He also wants us to pray for justice which is much the same as praying for Jesus’ return and the end of evil.
Perseverance in prayer is the thing that keeps us dependant on God and that constant dependence will be the only thing that will ensure that there will be faith on earth when Jesus returns. Spiders keep at it because they don’t know any better, we keep at it because we do.