“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?
- Luke 15:8
This parable is the second in the series of parables Jesus tells in Luke 15. The first was about a man who left 99 sheep behind while he went looking for his one lost sheep. Today’s passage echoes that theme and focuses it.
While the man in yesterday’s story has 100 sheep, the woman in today’s story has 10 coins. Jesus is narrowing the focus. The third parable in the series will talk about a man who has 2 sons. 100, 10, 2.
The coin the woman lost would have been worth one day’s wage. For most people, earning that coin would have required sweaty, backbreaking, difficult work. Hours in the field. Hours at the loom. Bent backs and sore hands. To lose one of those coins was to lose a day of her life.
The woman in today’s passage doesn’t accept the loss. She lights a lamp; dark corners won’t hide her coin. She sweeps the house, moving furniture and rugs. She conducts her search actively and attentively. Everyone expects her to behave like this.
What emotions do you think she would have felt during her search? Her initial enthusiasm might quickly fade under the grind of moving the couch and systematically looking under the rugs. Tired after a long day at work, this wasn’t a fun way to spend an evening. Perhaps the discouragement would be followed by a wave of shame – “How foolish to lose the coin!” – or fear: “What if I don’t find it?” Eventually, she’d settle in for the long haul and would be carried by persistent endurance until she found that lost coin.
We go through similar emotional journeys when we go searching for “lost coins” in our lives: lost relationships and loved ones who are far from God. Initial enthusiasm gives way to discouragement and exhaustion. But if we push through the valley with faithful endurance, what a joy waits for us on the other side: second chances, restoration, new life!
And – good news – this is what God does for us. He faithfully endures in his search for us until he finds us. We should not be surprised to find God active and attentive in his search for us and for those we love.
The question put before us is “Will we join him?”