One of my favorite Bible characters doesn’t even have a name. I want to meet her when I get to heaven and I’m going to have to ask around to see if anyone knows where to find “the Syro-Phonecian woman”. All we’re told about her is where she was from, and the fact that her daughter was being tortured by demons. But she’s one of my favorites because she was put through a faith test quite unlike any other. Jesus ignored her cries for help. Or so it seemed.
She had heard that Jesus was in town, and knowing that He was the only one who could save her daughter, ran to meet him. She cried out for His help. She expected a miracle. And then we read one of the most startling statements ever recorded in the Bible.
“Jesus did not answer her a word.”
Really? The Lord of miracles and healings and mercy and grace and love and power…ignored her? But wait…it gets even worse. She kept crying out, the disciples urged Jesus to send her away, and then when He finally did speak to her, He told her that He came for the Jews, and she wasn’t a Jew and it would be like throwing good bread to the dogs. I would have turned away at that point with my tail between my legs and gone home. But here is where she becomes my hero.
She boldly pursues Jesus and says, “Yes, but even the little dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table”. I love this woman! Talk about perseverance! She was not going to walk away. She was going to stick it out in the face of what appeared to be an impossible situation. Her persistence paid off. Jesus turned to her and said (with a big smile, I’m guessing), “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted!”. And immediately, her daughter was freed from the demons.
“By seeming to draw away the desired mercy from her, he drew her on to be so much more importunate for it. Every accepted prayer is not immediately an answered prayer. Sometimes God seems not to regard His people’s prayers, but it is to prove, and so improve their faith.” (Matthew Henry)
Sometimes when it seems that God is ignoring us, He’s actually giving us a chance to strengthen our faith. I want to remember that. I want to be like the Syro-Phonecian woman and boldy approach the throne – especially when things look impossible. And I want to hear Jesus say with a great big smile, “Sharon, great is your faith”.
Adapted from “Anticipatience – A New Word of Hope for Single Women” by Sharon Virkler