In a respite in the land of Tyre and Sidon, Jesus met a Gentile woman from Canaan so distraught over her child’s severe demon possession that she made a spectacle of herself trying to get Him to heal her daughter. In Matthew 15:22 (NKJV), she cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”
Like many mothers, this woman was in such distress about her daughter that she identified her daughter’s affliction as her own, saying, “have mercy on me” rather than “my daughter.” This is an important lesson about prayer: in order to effectively pray for someone, we need to be able to identify with their condition. Jesus is our ultimate example, as Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV) tells us “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus knows how to identify with our struggles because He experienced them, Himself.
Despite the Canaanite woman’s desperate pleas, however, Jesus, surprisingly, ignored her. You would think the woman was making her case known quite clearly, but Jesus wanted her to demonstrate something more. We are trained that if we shout loud enough and confess it long enough, God will be obligated to hear…but, not so. God knows that sometimes all the hollering and screaming has more to do with emotion than it does with real faith.
Matthew 15:24-26 (NKJV) indicates that this woman was relentless, so Jesus answered her and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel…. It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
Wow! You would think that this woman would have gotten offended and just gone home. I wonder how many of us would have. Yet, she was not deterred. Instead, in verse 27, she humbly replied, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
Her faith and humility before the Lord were incredible. Despite essentially being compared to a dog, she still called him Lord. When God’s ways seem offensive, can you still call Him Lord?
Sometimes, we don’t understand His hand, but we must learn to trust His heart. The Canaanite woman wasn’t even a Jew; God had to use someone outside of the covenant and who didn’t feel entitled to show us true humility.
She said, “Yes, Lord.” She didn’t fight, she didn’t get offended, she didn’t object or argue. She knew she was a Gentile, a sinner, common and unclean by the Jews’ standards. Until you admit it, you can’t quit it. How you respond to the truth is going to determine what you receive.
One of the biggest problems we have in prayer is that we don’t use God’s Word in our prayers. Psalm 138:2 says, “For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” (NKJV)
God honors His word above all His attributes. If you get ahold of God’s Word, you get ahold of Him. She didn’t mind being called names because she knew He promised to save those who call upon His name.
And after all that begging and pleading, the Canaanite woman had finally displayed to Jesus the missing element of her original request: FAITH. She didn’t need a great religious display of desperate need. All Jesus needed to see was her faith. In Matthew 15:28, He said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire,” and He healed her daughter.
There are three things that differentiate regular faith from great faith:
o Great faith is not easily offended.
o Great faith is concerned with the needs of others.
o Great faith requires great desire.
Faith is a bridge between where you are and where God wants you to go. Unless you take that first step to cross over the bridge, you can’t go where God wants you to go. The Canaanite woman humbly took that first step by putting aside all her pride and emotion, and simply trusted in God’s Word!
What’s stopping you from taking that step? Let’s learn from this woman and decide to let go of our self-entitlement and cross the bridge, today!
Living in Grace and Peace,
Dr. Derek Grier
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