Closed for the Night: Rivers of Faith, Part 6

Gorgeous view of the mountains in Leysin

A Canaanite woman was in dire distress. Her daughter was demon-possessed (This is real as I have witnessed it first hand) and no one could help her. Hearing that Jesus was in her neighbourhood, she hastened her step to meet Him in person.

It didn't matter to her that Jews of that day considered Canaanites as the scum of the earth. Funny enough, she wasn't even a Canaanite. She was, in fact, Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. But it didn't really matter where she was born, for  any pagan was viewed as a dog, completely unworthy of attention.

The woman was well aware of how she would be received, but it didn't discourage her from approaching this group of men Jesus associated with. After all, her daughter needed deliverance!

As soon as she was within ear-shot of Jesus, she cried out in a loud voice: "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession." (Matt 15:22 NIV)

Surprisingly, Jesus didn't answer.

Why? Why would He remain silent in the face of someone who so obviously needed His help?

We soon find out, as His disciples come up to him and urge Him to send her away: "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us." (Matt 15:23 NIV)

In other words, the disciples weren't surprised that Jesus didn't answer her. What surprised them was that He didn't send her away! In not sending her away, Jesus was, in their minds, giving her attention that she didn't deserve! She was, after all, a total waste of time!

Jesus' reaction seems to please his disciples: "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." (Matt 15:24 NIV)

Way to go Master! She's the scum of the Earth! Away with her!

Amazingly, the woman doesn't get discouraged: "Lord, help me!" (Matt 15:25 NIV)

What's up with this woman?

Jesus' disciples suddenly begin to realize something: this woman is different from anyone else they've met! Deep down they begin to recognize that she has something that even they don't have: unstoppable faith!

Jesus continues to play along with his disciples' rules, thus preparing them for a lesson they will never forget: "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." (Matt 15:26 NIV)

The woman's response would echo in the minds of these disciples for a long time to come: "'Yes, Lord,' she said, 'but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table.'" (Matt 15:27 NIV)

Even though she was referred to as "a dog", she does not get discouraged! Instead she still sees Jesus as her master, and boldly suggests that He give HER those crumbs from the table, because she knows they will satisfy her daughter's needs!

Had we been this poor woman, would we have reacted in the same manner? Or would we have been outraged by the insult? Would we have stayed? Or would we have stormed off mad? Would we have been satisfied with mere "crumbs" from our Master's table? Or would we have shot for the moon? The "all or nothing" mentality?

Maybe this is why our real needs are not met. We are too consumed by our own desires! We let ourselves become discouraged by our circumstances! The moment things don't seem to go our way, our faith crumbles!

Jesus shows us our true nature in this encounter: We lack faith!

No wonder Jesus declared loudly: "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." (Matt 15:28 NIV) And her daughter was healed at that very moment.

In all reality, Jesus would never send anyone away. How can love be love otherwise? "Whoever comes to me I will never drive away." (John 6:37 NIV) He knew the faith this foreign woman had, and He knew that this encounter would not only change His disciples for eternity, but it would also change those like us who read this story!

Our first night in Leysin, Switzerland, seemed to be in jeopardy. We arrived at our hotel at 8:30 and were faced with a sign on the door that read: "Closed for the Night"!

No matter how hard we tried to knock on the door, no one came. In desperation we took our cell phone and called the number to the place. We were greeted with a rough voice: "I will be right there!"

Ten minutes later a man on a motorbike came to meet us. He then spent the next several minutes lecturing us about reservations in Europe. He informed us that if we are going to arrive late, we need to call in advance, or our reservation would not be honoured. It made us feel very, very welcome, if you know what I mean!

However, he did show us to our reserved rooms, and though we didn't feel welcome, we were glad to have a place to rest and an unforgettable view of the nearby mountains.

We could have stomped away mad and discouraged, but guess who would have suffered the loss? Not the innkeeper. He had our credit card information! Instead, our persistence paid off.

It is the same with persistent faith. Who cares how others treat us? What is really important is that the Most High loves us beyond comprehension!

Rob Chaffart

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