Most of us have at one time or another, been disrespected in some way. We remember how that made us feel and the range of emotions that soon followed. We all want to receive respect at some level and have our sense of self-worth validated.
In Matt. 15:22, we find the story of a Canaanite woman. She’s one disadvantaged because of race, national origin and socioeconomics. We see her approaching Jesus with the same sort of desperation known only to those who have tried everything. As a Gentile, she would have been unfamiliar with the scriptures, and detestable to the average Jew. She was also a mother whose child was very sick and had decided that she would not keep silent any more.
Somehow, she had heard that Jesus had performed miracles with a simple word or touch, fed a multitude with five loaves and a few small fish, and who could liberate those possessed with unclean spirits. In him, she decided that she had found the answer to her problem. She sought him out, found him, fell at his feet and cried, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But then, something very strange happened. Jesus did not respond, but rather ignored her. A desperate mother has come to him for help and Jesus doesn’t say a word.
The disciples urged Jesus, saying, “Send her away for she keeps shouting after us.” To add insult to injury when Jesus finally does speak, he told her, “I was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
” Lord, help me,” she says. And finally after having ignored and rejecting her, he denies her— then says, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”
This woman is like many who in their moment of despair, hopelessness, and rejection, find the courage to stand in the middle of their adversity and let their voices be heard. Instead of withdrawing and fading into the background, she persists. She speaks again and her words are extraordinary. She says, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
Jesus responded, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish” And her daughter was healed instantly.
It was like she was saying, “I may be a dog … but I’m your dog, and I’m worthy to come to the table of grace and mercy as God’s child. I’ll take the crumbs, for it is better for me to have the crumbs from the Master’s table than nothing at all.”
Our infinitely merciful and gracious Lord was waiting for this very statement all along. He wasn’t ignoring her out of indifference. He was only lingering until she could work up that bold faith that pleases him so much. To that, he was obliged and obligated to respond.
This woman is no different from you and me, and he is ready to receive our petitions as well. But he wants us to be pushy … persistent … and persevering. How many times do we come to God with a weak, wishy-washy request like, “Lord, I know you’re probably not going to grant this, but …” Approaching him with no faith will likely insure that we will receive the same silence he gave to the woman in our scripture.
Up until this moment, this woman had been eating from the buffet that the world had to offer. But she decided that now she would only settle for what would fall from the Master’s table. You and I too, must stop settling for less than the crumbs from the Master’s table. We must stop eating at the world’s buffet. An example of this is when we attempt to solve our problems our way, or Dr. Phil’s way, or with prescriptions, or escapism rather than running to the Master’s table.
This brave woman learned a valuable lesson. She learned that …
Everybody is God’s somebody … and can be made worthy to sit at God’s table of mercy and grace!