Monday, September 21, 2009

A Woman of Great Faith

“Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” (Matthew 15:28)

Have you ever had someone completely ignore you? They disregarded your phone calls, your text messages, or your emails. In other words, they gave you the cold shoulder. It is very frustrating … isn’t it? Well, what if that someone was God?

Our Scripture today comes from Matthew 15:21-28. Over the course of several days Jesus had healed, fed, and ministered to a multitude of people. Now he is tired, so he travels with his disciples to the coast for some rest. It was to be a vacation of sorts … an opportunity for him and his disciples to meditate and recharge their batteries.

Jesus’ time of rest is suddenly disturbed by a Canaanite woman who has a problem. She cries out to Jesus, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.” However, Jesus "answered her not a word" (verse 23).

It seems completely out of character for Jesus to disregard the pleas of someone in trouble, but for some reason he ignores her. However, this woman does not give up easily, and once again she begins crying out after Jesus.

This woman is so persistent that Jesus' disciples can not take it any longer. Now, remember that these are the same men who helped Jesus feed five thousand people just a few days before. They knew a little about crowd control. Certainly they had dealt with unruly people before.

Unfortunately, this woman’s cries of desperation prove to be too much for them. So they go to Jesus and urge him to "Send her away for she keeps crying out after us" (verse 23).

Once again Jesus ignores the woman’s request. Instead he tells the disciples, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

Can you imagine how Jesus' words must have affected this woman? First Jesus ignores her completely. Then when he does speak to her, he announces he can not help her because she is not a Jew.

You can almost hear the desperation in her voice as she persists in her pleas. Instead of going away, "the woman came and knelt before Jesus and begged Him, ’Lord, help me’" (verse 25).

Jesus turns and addresses the woman. However, rather than give this woman some comforting words, he says, "It is not meet (right) to take the children's bread, and cast (toss) it to dogs."

Unbelievable! Jesus just compared this woman to a dog. But, just as quickly, this poor suffering mother answers back, "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters table" (verse 27).

Why was Jesus being so hard on this woman? Why was he ignoring her pleas? In the past, Jesus had healed many people with less drama. What was it about this woman that kept him from helping her?

In reality, Jesus was not trying to hurt this woman. Rather, he was testing her faith. Jesus wanted her to take a good hard look at who she was and to think about what she deserved from God.

Many times God tests us in a similar way. God does not always answer prayer the way we want. He does not always give us what we want, or give us what we want when we want it. In fact, sometimes it seems God is giving us the cold shoulder … just like Jesus seemed to be doing with this woman.

Some of the requests we bring to God may seem fine to us, but God denies our requests because he determines our requests will harm us. Remember that the next time you feel like God is ignoring you. Maybe what you are asking for is something that will hurt you.

Also know that we must come to God with the right attitude. If we come to God with the wrong attitude then we should expect him to ignore our requests. Know that we do not deserve anything from God. Just because you go to church every Sunday does not mean that God owes you anything. Sometimes God wants us to realize that we are nothing but beggars asking for scraps from the master's table.

In our text, this woman displays the right kind of attitude. She knew that she did not deserve anything, but she believed that Jesus was merciful enough to grant her request.

Yes, she passed Jesus’ test. She trusted that he had both the desire and ability to heal her daughter. She also believed that Jesus could and would heal her daughter, not because of who she was, but because of who Jesus was.

In the end, the woman’s faith was rewarded. Scripture tells us that Jesus told her, "O woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour" (verse 28). Her daughter was healed.

The question we all have to ask ourselves is, "Could we continue to keep our faith in spite of what seemed like impossible obstacles?” The answer is that most of us would have given up after the first couple of times that Jesus ignored us. That is what made this woman's faith so great. She truly believed in the power of Jesus.

Let's face it, as we walk down the narrow path, there are going to be times when we feel like God is ignoring us. There are going to be times when God tests our faith. There are going to be times when we feel like our trials are more than we can bear. That is when we need to hold on to our faith in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is important to realize that when we learn to have the kind of faith in Jesus that the humble Canaanite woman had, then one day Jesus may also say to us ... "great is thy faith."


  1. I agree, the woman had great faith and was persistant in her faith. Great blog

  2. Thank you. I really needed to read this, at this exact time. Going through devastating times in our lives, it is, often, so easy to wonder, "Where is He, and why is He not helping me", rather than giving it over to Him and trusting and KNOWING that He is all powerful... He is capable, and He will take care of those of us who put our trust in Him.