There are many times in our lives when not much happens until something becomes urgent. A doctor, a preacher, or financial planner can tell us something until they are blue in the face, but it will not mean much without a profound inner sense that some sort of change needs to occur – that the way things are isn’t going to cut it any longer.
Today’s Gospel lesson is a story of urgency. Here is a Gentile Canaanite woman, a person who is about as far from God as one can get in the ancient world. She was not concerned about appearances, etiquette, or any pretense to hide her pain; she cared about her daughter getting healed of her suffering. So, she sought Jesus. And the woman believed that Jesus was the answer to her daughter’s situation. It was the dogged belief (pun intended) that Jesus will deliver.
Grace is bestowed only to the humble that recognize the urgency of needing Jesus. It is bestowed only in God’s good timing – not ours. The real muster of a genuine faith is exemplified by a willingness to beg, and is demonstrated with perseverance in the face of the slimmest of odds. A superficial reading of the story might lead us to think that Jesus’ initial response to the woman was elitist and aloof. It seems to me that a better way of looking at it is that our faith will be tested to prove its authenticity.
The woman displayed a raw, real, and persistent faith – the very faith that Jesus commended. It makes me wonder how urgent I am in prayer. I wonder what would happen if I prayed for one lost neighbor or relative every day with the same urgent persistence as the woman; or, if I begged God without giving up to heal my grandson’s epilepsy; or, if I persevered in prayer for revival. Perhaps the real enemy of the Christian life is mediocrity and a false sense of acceptance that all is just fine the way it is – kind of like the Pharisees.
Healing God, you are the hope of the church and of all who look to you in faith. Please turn the world, and my world, upside-down with spiritual power that heals people of disease, depression, and demonic influence so that the kingdom of God breaks into all of life and does its transforming work in Jesus’ Name. Amen.