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Lord Help Me!

There is a woman of great faith and humility that the Holy Spirit keeps bringing to my mind. Her story is found in Matthew 15 and it is short and yet powerful. Her interaction with Jesus is at first a bit confounding, but I believe this small passage of Scripture holds much for us to glean and to cling to. 

“And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.” (Matthew 15:21-28)

Why did he not answer her? Not even a word? As she cried out for mercy and as she, a Canaanite woman, recognized just who He was? “O Lord, Son of David” she called Him. She knew who Jesus was and that it was only the Lord who could help her. 

And yet, He was silent. 

Perhaps His disciples mistook His silence for indifference or refusal even, because they begged Jesus to send her away. They begged Him since she kept crying out to them, as well. 

Have you known that kind of desperation before? To cry out to the Lord over and over again, only to be met with silence? To come to the church, His people, for relief? I pray that you have been met by the members of His body with nothing but sacrificial and supernatural love - and that is a gift and a grace - but those people serve to usher you into the presence and the love of Christ. 

What do you do when there seems to be no answer to your cries for help? When people can’t save you and when the only One who can seems to be choosing not to? 

When He answered her, His answer was not what we may have expected: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 

Was there no hope for her? She was a Canaanite, after all. We know that the gospel would go forth to the Gentiles, but Jesus seems to be saying this is not the time. He is here for His lost sheep. She is not of the house of Israel. But she’s encountered the Lord Jesus and is so close. So close. Will He really not show her mercy? 

She comes closer and kneels before Him, pleading, “Lord, help me.” 

His answer: “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 

What is your response to that statement? It sounds harsh, right? Offensive, even. How could He say that? As she kneels before Him in utter desperation? 

It’s important to note a couple of things here. By “children”, Jesus means the Israelites. His usage of the word “dogs” does not actually reflect His mind toward this woman or toward Gentiles at all. “Dogs” was a term commonly used by the Jews that represented their animosity toward ‘unclean’ Gentiles. And in fact, the word that Jesus used here for ‘dog’ is a much more mild, gentle word. 

Still, we may wonder at His statement and ask ourselves if this context makes His words any less harsh. But note here, sweet sister, that this woman does not. She does not even flinch and without missing a beat, she replies, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 

When Jesus encountered this woman, He knew what He would do. He knew that the very words she would speak came from a heart full of faith, humility and trust. Note that just before this account, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and states, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart...” (Matthew 15:18a) and what came from this woman’s mouth represented a deep humility, content with even crumbs from the masters’ table. Faith that even those crumbs could heal her hopeless situation. Trust in the person and character of Jesus Christ. 

His silence and His words did not deter her. His words were not a hindrance to her and she did not receive them as such. No, in knowing and recognizing Jesus, trusting in Him, she persisted. He did not remain silent nor did He refuse her out of malice. 

Her faith was put to the test and her perseverance was rewarded:

“"O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.”

Oh, Lord, would you grow our faith? And as you grow our faith, would you grow us also in humility? Would you grant us a humility and a meekness like this Canaanite woman? 

Would you make us persistent? A people persevering in prayer? Bowing before you full of faith and wonder, content and confident in even crumbs from your table to be more than enough for us? 

Oh, God, let it be so. 

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