Jesus left that place and went to the territory of Tyre. He didn’t want anyone to know that he was staying in a house there. However, it couldn’t be kept a secret. A woman whose little daughter had an evil spirit heard about Jesus. She went to him and bowed down. The woman happened to be Greek, born in Phoenicia in Syria. She asked him to force the demon out of her daughter. Jesus said to her, “First, let the children eat all they want. It’s not right to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She answered him, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat some of the children’s scraps.” Jesus said to her, “Because you have said this, go! The demon has left your daughter.” The woman went home and found the little child lying on her bed, and the demon was gone. Mark 7:24-30.
As I continue my study of Mark, I am inspired by this story, because it shows a time when Jesus was willing to do something that was NOT on his agenda.
Here are other examples of God changing his agenda —
- Abraham pleading for Sodom and Gomorrah. (Gen 18)
- Moses changed God’s mind when He was going to destroy the people. Ex 32:14
- Joshua asked God and the sun stood still. Joshua 10:13
- Hezekiah got several more years. Isaiah 38:5
The most amazing thing about this story is the woman. She doesn’t get discouraged when Jesus says no. She just keeps on trying, though the door is shut in her face. And Jesus is impressed by that.
It’s almost like God doesn’t want us to be polite with him. There’s the story of the person who knocks on his neighbor’s door at night to get bread, or the one about the woman who keeps coming before the judge asking for justice. In a sense, God wants us to be like a stubborn child, to cross our arms and hold forth for what we want.
How many people give up too quickly? I can think of so many times when I’ve gotten discouraged and didn’t believe anymore that things were going to work out. Times when I’ve studied the Bible with several people, and none of them made it. Times when things in the ministry didn’t go as I thought they should. Times when I had health problems that wouldn’t go away, or day after day of depression.
But the Bible insists that God wants to give good gifts to those who ask him.
- Ask and it will be given to you. Matt 7:7
- Whatever you ask in my name, that I will do. John 14:13
This story of the Phoenician woman also shows that there are lots of bad things that go on in this world. This little girl was being abused by an evil spirit. The world is not a happy place. Bad things happen, to children no less.
And Jesus wasn’t even going to help. He was going to let the child suffer.
And I realize it’s true that Jesus will allow us to suffer as well. We don’t live in a world where everything is supposed to be “fixed,” happy, perfect. God allows us to be in tough situations.
Like this woman, we have to FIGHT for Him to grant relief.
Jesus didn’t come to fix the world and end all disease and suffering. He came to give us hope for the world to come.
“I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) A couple of weeks ago I took a tour of a mockup of scenes Biblical times. I saw a house like people would have lived in when Jesus was on earth. The guide showed us how the man who wanted to get married would build on a room to his father’s house. Build out of stone, it was something that took time. It’s comforting, and really cool to think that Jesus is making a room for us in heaven, a place for us to be his bride.
And here’s one more thing about the story of the Phoenician woman. She probably didn’t even believe in God or know Him. It’s likely all she knew was that Jesus had miraculous spiritual power.
It just blows my mind. I can’t help but think that I have a special edge because I think I’m God’s homie. God’s going to listen to me and work for me. And of course, even though I know it’s not true, I feel like I have to be super spiritual so God will work MORE on my behalf.
But God shows that he is the God who sends rain on the just and the unjust. He pays the same wage to the laborer who comes in at the last minute. He is an amazing merciful God who gives in a way that’s hard for us to understand. He GIVES to all, even the “undeserving.” (Of course we’re ALL undeserving. ) On one level, no matter how badly I’m doing, God still listens and wants to give.
For us, it’s not about being super spiritual. It’s about faith. It just takes a heart that won’t give up or get discouraged. It takes a person who will BOLDLY go before God and make heartfelt requests, over and over.
If there were an important person visiting Auburn, I probably wouldn’t try to go up and talk to them. “They wouldn’t want to talk to me,” I would tell myself. I would watch in wonder and even discomfort if someone else went up to them expecting them to be warmly received. If I did try to go up to them and felt rejected, I FOR SURE wouldn’t try again.
But this woman did try again.
And that’s what I want to do today. Try again. FIGHT. Pray again for our church. Pray again for those who are sick. Pray again for those who are struggling. Pray again for those who are far from faith. Pray in circles around the impossible prayers time and time again.
And go forward with confidence that, even if I feel sometimes feel like an unspiritual, unworthy “dog,” to God I still am worthy of “crumbs.” Even if it’s not on His agenda, God is willing to answer my prayers.