“Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet He could not keep His presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about Him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at His feet.”
It had been another long night in a string of nights that stretched into endless days. There seemed to be no relief from the physical and mental torment her young daughter suffered, and certainly no relief for herself. She had to be vigilant. If she relaxed her watch for even a moment, her daughter’s fits could result in serious harm to herself and to others, not to mention the destruction of their tiny home. It had happened before, too many times.
She hadn’t always been this way. She was such a sweet baby with her curly black hair and chocolate eyes that took in everything. But suddenly, without warning, her daughter began to have uncontrollable tantrums. Then her fledgling vocabulary turned into curses and screams. There was no calming her, and even her exhausted slumber was now riddled with thrashing and shouting. Nothing helped. Not even the offerings she had left on the altars of the Greek gods scattered throughout the city. But she would never give up searching for a way to rid her daughter of this demon!
That morning, after tying her daughter to the bed, she left with her water jugs and joined the women at the well. She never had time to stop and listen to the chatter and gossip that flowed as freely as the well water, but this morning she heard something that made her pause. A Jewish rabbi had arrived in their town on the border of Tyre and Sidon! This was unheard of! What was he doing some 63 kilometers north of Galilee among a settlement of Gentiles? The women said he was staying at a house nearby but didn’t want anyone to know about it. Nothing stayed a secret in this town, however. The women said he had performed great miracles among the Jews, turning water into wine, healing the blind, and even casting out demons! Hearing this, the woman dropped her jugs and ran to her neighbor’s house where the man was staying.
This Syrophoenician woman knew that faithful Jews would have nothing to do with the Gentiles. They were considered unclean. She had been called a “kynarion,” a dog, a shameless and wanton woman by more than one Jew. Her chances of being seen by this teacher who did not want to be known in this region were slim, but she had no choice. She had to try! Not bothering to knock on the door, she stumbled in and immediately fell on her face at the feet of the rabbi, and in humility, with tears streaming down her face, she begged him to drive out the demon from her little daughter.
I imagine it was with tenderness in his voice and softness in his eyes that Jesus responded to her: “First let the children eat all they want for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” The words were expected, but they pierced her heart with conviction. She was persuaded, she was unclean! She needed the Master’s touch as much as her daughter did. And so, she confessed with the tiny morsel of faith she had: “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” She had no argument more persuasive than her simple faith and cry for mercy, so she left everything at His feet. And there she found mercy for herself and her daughter whom Jesus healed at that very moment. Mercy overflowing in time of need, in response to a simple, fervent prayer of faith. ©
Jesus, I am like this Syrophoenician woman in desperate need of Your mercy every day. How grateful I am that You are never hidden. You promise in Jeremiah 29:13-14, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD.” And your mercies are new every morning! Help me be resilient in intercession and grant me faith as big as a mustard seed to believe Your promises and to leave everything at Your feet. Mold me and change me, Father, by the power of Your Holy Spirit and the Truth of Your Word.