Check out the featured post here: https://www.ibelieve.com/faith/when-your-only-words-are-lord-help-me.html
A few days ago, I struggled with my commute to work. While the drive is only twelve to fifteen minutes from my home, I suffer from intense and paralyzing anxiety. Anxiety has many different flavors, and driving is one of them.
Although driving is not the only thing that provokes anxiety, it is one of my mind’s favorite issues to cling to and breed despair. Between the light rain, dense fog, dark skies, wiping windshields, and clouding windows, my body began to shake.
In moments like these, the only words I can often say are “Lord, help me!” And in Matthew chapter 15, beginning at verse 21, the faith of a Canaanite woman felt the same way.
A Bold Rebel’s Plea
As Jesus made His way to Tyre and Sidon, a Canaanite woman from that area began to cry out the same words I did in my car: “Lord, help me!”
Unlike myself, however, this woman’s pleas extended twelve to fifteen minutes while moving from point A to point B on a map.
In faith, the woman asked Jesus to have mercy on her because her daughter was suffering intense demon possession. Jesus, after all, was who the sick and needy went to for healing.
But while this might seem like a typical plea to some, it was an outlandish request. Due to their people groups, Jesus, the King of the Jews, was not to interact with Canaanites.
“Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us”(Matthew 15: 21-23, New International Version).
The Passion Translation of these verses describes this woman as Lebanese and non-Jewish. Jesus left where He was in chapter 14 and entered this region of Tyre and Sidon (a non-Jewish region of Lebanon). Because this Canaanite merchant woman came from this region, however, a region wherein the Old Testament, a woman named Jezebel established Baal worship, it was frowned upon that Jesus would interact with her.
How Desperate Are You?
When the Canaanite woman told Jesus her daughter was demon-possessed and begged “Lord, help me,” it was radical, bold, countercultural, and quite shocking. And not only did she persist, but even when Jesus and the Disciples didn’t answer, she kept persisting.
Like this woman, we, too, must be desperate in prayer and seeking help from the Lord. And we must want the help, whatever that help may be.
This woman was in a Baal worshipping place. Jesus knew this when He told her He was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel and it was not right for a man to take bread from His children (the people of Israel), and throw it out to the dogs (non-Jewish people).
“He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs”(Matthew 15: 24-26, New Living Translation).
And in this case, those who surrounded the woman, would not care or listen anyways because they worshipped Baal and not the Great I am.
Yet in faith, this woman stepped beyond the customs and ways of her region, and said, “You’re right, but even dogs eat crumbs that fall from a table!” Or in other words, “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table” (Matthew 15:27, New Living Translation).
In faith, the Canaanite woman was willing to look Jesus in the face and say, “Yes, Lord, we are unworthy, but we dogs (non-Jewish people) will gladly take even the crumbs.” She believed that to receive even crumbs from the Lord, not bread, would be enough to heal her daughter.
Today, we do not need a ton of faith, and if we have a little, that is enough. Matthew 7:20 of the English Standard Version reminds us of that exact principle: “He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20, English Standard Version).
Just as Jesus said to the woman, “You have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment” (Matthew 15:28, New International Version), or “Dear woman, your faith is strong! What you desire will be done for you,” (Matthew 15:28a, The Passion Translation) the same can happen for us today.
In unlikely places.
In idolatrous places.
In places where you are the bold one out.
And all it takes is a little faith.
“And at that very moment, her daughter was instantly set free from demonic torment” (Matthew 15:28b, The Passion Translation). And so, too, can we be set free from whatever we are saying, Lord, help me!”
Let us pray:
As we read about this Canaanite woman, maybe we can relate to the pleas that waver from her lips. Maybe like her, we are tired, desperate, and weary from living in a land that does not know who you are. We are broken by those who do not serve God and often fail ourselves. But in the middle of our chaos, remind us that all it takes is a little faith to cry out to you. Because of your grace, salvation, mercy, and forgiveness, you do not judge us for who we are, or where we have been, but where you have us going. Encourage us to reach out to you in faith today whatever we need, and help us trust that you will provide, even if we are the dogs looking for scraps under the table. We love, praise, and thank you, God. Amen.