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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.

Ephesians 2:8
Courage From the Margins Book Cover

courage from the margins

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.

unwavering determination

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.

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Daily Question

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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Comments (4)

For me I have courage to believe that God can change my circumstances. I Sometimes lack the faith of believing someone can change for the better when I don’t see progress but still believe it is possible. God’s timing is perfect even when mine is not.

Most days I have the courage to face whatever the Lord throws my way, but there are moments when it all seems too big and there is too much happening and I can’t catch my breath and in those moments my faith is shaken and it is hard to trust because all I see are the waves crashing in around me. I have faith that the Lord is going to do big things in my life but I feel like I don’t have enough courage to take that first step.

Erynn, that feeling of being unable to breathe is horrifying. My heart goes out to you dear woman. Take courage – Christ has overcome all that makes you breathless! When I’m feeling battered and bruised and scared to death – I listen to "Fear is Liar" cranked UP. Bless you!

What is left out of the explanation of this miracle is that the woman was a Samaritan – a race the Jews hated. Yet this woman still approached Jesus – she loved her daughter, as all of us love our children, and the "Mama Bear" overpowered racial hatred. Jesus, of course, did not hate her – He used her to make a point, which was that ALL are welcome to come to Him. He made this point to His disciples, of course, because as Jews they had no desire to be hear her – but He made it to us as well. This message works across time and history and space, and yet with such an important topic He brought to bear – His love has no place with hatred – this message comes out of it as well – life takes faith and courage! We know God does not hate us if we’re white or black or brown or blue – but do we have the courage to approach Him with all our needs? This second point posed above – places where you have faith but little courage – hit home with me this week. I need the courage to overcome the belief that being godly makes me an easy target for those who want to take an advantage of me. Partly it’s an irrational fear – most of the people in my life wouldn’t set out to do that intentionally – but partly it’s justified – we ARE considered easy targets from those with a "world view."

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