She was a Syrian. That’s all the spectators could see: a Syrian—a Gentile, Syrophoenician by birth—and a woman. That meant she wasn’t supposed to be there. She didn’t belong. She didn’t fit, and everyone knew it. But what they couldn’t see—not on her skin or the features of her face, not in her style of clothing, not even in her gender—was what, in that moment, mattered most. She was a mother and her little girl was suffering. So, even though she knew she’d receive condemnation, she entered the stranger’s home looking for the one she knew had the power to help her.
Courage From the Margins
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
courage from the margins
This woman’s story is not an easy one to read. She falls before Jesus and begs him to “cast the demon out of her daughter,” and just when we would expect Jesus to do what Jesus does—to heal without hesitation—he doesn’t. Instead, he looks to her and says, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” What? If we didn’t read it with our own eyes, we wouldn’t believe it. This woman is desperate. Her child is hurting, and Jesus can do something about it. But instead, he meets her distress by challenging her faith. It sounds cold to us. It sounds unfeeling. And for a lot of us, it sounds like a closed door, but Jesus had a greater purpose in mind for this woman.
when faith meets courage
The Syrophoenician woman’s faith was anything but timid. If Jesus’s words stung her we wouldn’t know it, because she answered him saying, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” She met Jesus’s boldness with boldness of her own and, in a single response, she displayed both unwavering determination and vulnerable humility. She knew she couldn’t demand anything of Jesus. She knew she was at his mercy. She knew all the social norms and hierarchies. But she also seemed to know something else that couldn’t be seen. So she didn’t let his words deter her, because she believed—and her faith became action.
Her faith believed Jesus could liberate her little girl from the unclean spirit, but her courage didn’t let anything stand in her way. This is the kind of courageous faith we’re called to live out—in our jobs, in our homes, in our conference rooms, in our classrooms. And here’s the amazing thing: when we live out our faith with courage, Jesus doesn’t disappoint us. Just as Jesus approved of this woman’s boldness, he approves of ours because ultimately, it is courageous faith that is most honorable to Jesus. It is courageous faith that believes in Jesus, even when all the odds are against us.
Watch Session One
Jesus Responds to Our Need
Are there places in your life where you have courage but little faith? Places where you have faith but little courage?
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