Tuesday, September 16, 2014

When We Hear “No.”

Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. (Matthew 15:25 KJV)

That’s just the middle of the story. I recently saw that verse posted and thought how much we’d love to hold on to it because we worship Him, call Him “Lord” and most certainly desire His help. We are just as gentile as she was, too:

And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. (Matthew 15:22-23 KJV)

How hard was it for this woman to plead with a Jew? Yet, He did not answer her. She continued. She believed He could heal her daughter. She persisted to the point that His disciples asked Him to send her away. Did you ever wonder why they didn’t send her away?

But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. (Matthew 15:24-26 KJV)

Instead of sending her away, He explained that she was not among His responsibilities.  He had a purpose, a focus on the children of Israel. She worshipped and begged for His help. His response sounds harsh, doesn’t it? He compares His work with the children of Israel as sustenance that should not be given to dogs. Did He just refer to her as a dog, an insult? Should she be angered, leave in disgust, give up?

And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. (Matthew 15:27 KJV)

She accepted the position He suggested. She was willing to lower herself to whatever position was necessary to receive crumbs.

Then we read His response:

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 KJV)

What if she had accepted the initial lack of response? What if she had left after He said only Israel was to receive? What if she had not accepted crumbs? Her daughter would have died.

Our Lord approached His Father three times asking that the cup be removed. All three times the answer was “No.” He knew what to expect yet bowed to His Father’s will.

What are the lessons for us? For me, I understand that not all I want – or think I need – fits into God’s plan. I may be on the edge of the crowd crying out for His mercy just as this Canaanite woman. It may appear that He’s not paying attention. This woman’s faith in Jesus’ authority and His ability was sufficient to keep her at His side until she received a positive response.

Now, do I have sufficient faith to stay close to Him, continuing to plead my case? Is what I’m asking as important as her request? Is my faith sufficient to continue beyond one – or two – or more “No” answers?

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