While I was finishing working on this sermon my daughter, Ariella lay half asleep on the couch beside me. She picked up a stomach bug and was feeling pretty under the weather. Now today a few days later she is still laying on the couch fighting the same stomach bug, but her older brother Simeon has joined her. I don’t like seeing them like this but they will feel better soon I am sure of it.
Today’s notable biblical women, is a woman known simply as the Canaanite Mother. And she also has a concern over the health of her daughter. Her daughter is said to be horribly demon possessed. I am not sure what that looks like for this mother and daughter or for how long she has been in this condition. But it is easy to imagine that it was very serious, and that it has gone on for a long time.
It is out of this desperation that this mother seeks out Jesus in hopes that he will heal her daughter. However when she approaches Jesus with her request he rather uncharacteristically refuses. The mother intensifies her request, Jesus intensifies his refusal. The conversation reaches its climax with this unusual exchange;
[Jesus] replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
There is a lot about this conversation that I don’t understand. I don’t know why Jesus was so uncharacteristically curt, and dare I say rather rude with this mother. But what I do know is that this mother demonstrates a faith that I want to have.
When she encounters a problem that she is unable to solve herself she turns to Jesus. But when met with initial silence and possible refusal she didn’t give up and she kept pressing forward. It is this kind of determined faith that I want to make sure I practice. There will be times in our lives when we face problems that we can not solve, but when we turn to prayer it seems like God is silent.
I think these moments of silence help to take our faith and refine it into great faith. Because it becomes a more tested faith. I don’t know why some prayers go unanswered for days, weeks, months or even years. But I know they do. It is within this space that we must follow the example of this notable biblical woman and demonstrate a faith that perseveres.