Tenacity is the quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly; being very determined, continuing to exist; persistence. Tenacious implies keeping a firm hold of something; clinging or adhering closely to it. A tenacious person does not readily relinquish a position, principle or course of action. It derives from the Latin tenere – to hold. A notorious example of tenacity is a dog or a pit bull locking it’s jaws and gripping it’s subject. Metaphorically, it is an attitude or behavior that says, “I’m holding on for life,” “I won’t release this thing until it’s done.”
Tenacity, determination and persistence are celebrated qualities in Scripture. Jacob wrestles with the angel so hard for so long that the socket of his thigh was permanently dislocated. The angel cries out, “Let me go for the dawn is breaking,” to which Jacob replies, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” (Gen. 32: 25-26) The Angel changes his name and states, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” (vs, 27)
Luke 18:1-8 is Jesus’ parable of the Persistent or Importunate woman. She kept coming to the unjust judge, who was apathetic about God and people, for justice in her case. With tenacity she cried out again and again pleading to be avenged against her adversary. Initially he refused, but because she kept bothering him, he thought, “I’ll see that she gets justice, so she won’t eventually come and attack me.” Jesus’ intention in telling this parable was to show US that we should always pray and not faint or give up – specifically in our cries for justice.
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Jesus equates faith with prayerful persistence and tenacious action. He wonders out loud, if He will find anyone on the earth whose jaws are so locked that they will not give up until they see justice for His chosen ones. The season that we are in requires this kind of tenacity. Isaiah said the consequences of our sin and rebellion against the Lord affect our ability to administer and receive justice, “So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter.” (Isaiah 59:12-13)
Christ followers are not unfamiliar with unjust trials. Our Savior Jesus, suffered an unjust trial: betrayal and abandonment by His closest companions, clandestine arrests and tribunals by night, falsifying of testimonies, fear of His rising influence authority and power, collusion and back door dealings from parties that were opposed but came in cahoots. He endured mocking, scourging, flogging, and questions surrounding His identity and purpose. (Luke 22-23; Mark 14-15) Through most of this…He answered not a word. Isaiah said He was led like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53) only affirming that ‘It is as you said,” when asked if He was the Messiah. Pilate didn’t want to convict Him, his wife had warned him not to. Through the deception, spin and propaganda of the religious leaders the people were put into a frenzy – persuaded to crucify an innocent man and let a known murderer and insurrectionist, Barabbas, go free.
If this type of injustice and corruption occurred in Scripture with our Lord, it is not implausible for it to happen today. Though there are many just and righteous proceedings… unscrupulous men and women still exist. Prosecutors and defense attorneys are paid to skew ‘facts’ to determine outcomes. We are constantly being spun by politicians and media. We REALLY are not privy to ALL of the truth. All the more reason whether looking nationally at a case like Eric Garner’s, or locally at a case like Judge Tracie Hunter’s (btw…the most tenacious person I’ve ever known): to cry out to the LORD and plead with the powers that be, day and night for justice! but when Jesus comes, will He find that kind of faith in us?