Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.” But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once. Matthew 15 : 21-28 (NASB)
There are times in our lives when we need a break. I am not talking of the mere desire for holiday by a sunny beach, as nice as they are. I am referring to when you are literally burned out by a busy life. I remember one time when friends recognised my need for a break. They made all the arrangements, surprising me with a paid retreat to the Holy Island (Lindisfarne). The retreat was a memorable blessing, which rejuvenated me spiritually and physically.
In our story today we find our Lord seeking a retreat for a short time in the countryside of the North Western coast district of Tyre and Sidon. This is in present day Lebanon. The district mentioned had been Canaanite and later a Phoenician district. These ports separated by a few miles were wealthy centres of trade. As much as Jesus sought solace around this place, people followed Him (Mark 7:24). One particular woman who heard of His presence came to Him with a purpose, just as Jairus had done for his daughter. This woman’s daughter was tormented by demons and she sought her healing from Jesus. Being ignored she was persistently crying out for His attention; what an example of parental care. She seeks Him who alone can heal her child, do we pray in this manner for our children?
The disciples were aggrieved by this loud scene, after all their Rabbi wanted some quiet time. Eventually they break silence and ask Jesus to send her away, hoping for relief from her persistent requests. Sometimes God sends folk in need at the most inconvenient time for our plans, what a shame indeed! Our Lord does not dismiss her but answers the disciples loud enough to be heard by her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” She did not give up but persisted in her request in a humble manner, bowing before Him. His refusal was not out of indifference but instead it shows His thoughtfulness, He was planning her reward. She had come in deep sorrow, displaying great faith in pursuing Him. She was to be rewarded!
“Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.” Could this woman have bowed any lower at this moment, she happily would have done so! Her worldy agony had been replaced by divine ecstasy, and she undoubtedly ran home to see her reward. This is another of those people who met the Messiah of whom we would love to know more.
Dear reader, we can learn much from this beautiful mother. She brought her pain to the Lord, beseeching Him to heal her daughter. Take note that she was not put off by His silence, she kept going in a spirit of utter humility. When we pray and get no response, this is not God’s refusal but His encouragement to continue seeking Him. If we pursue His provision in faith we are assured He does hear us, and will answer in His perfect time.