History bears countless examples of the ways in which mothers have protected their children during the presence of danger. Natural disasters, wild animals, car jackings—all of these have proven matchless against the seemingly supernatural power of women looking out for their young. What wouldn’t we do for our children?
Today, we see Jesus’s compassion extends to all, no matter what. In Matthew 15, we come across an extreme circumstance. A demon had oppressed a woman’s daughter. She realized that only the power of Jesus could remedy the situation. Her action was to reach out to the one who alone can heal.
Let’s not miss the implications of this story. This woman wasn’t just any woman. She was a Canaanite. Tyre and Sidon were nonJewish cities, about fifty miles away, and there was no need or any likely reason for Jesus to go to or through these cities. By car or train, fifty miles is less than an hour away. On foot or even by donkey, it is quite a long distance. But Jesus traveled those many miles to meet a need.
What a noise and disturbance this woman was causing! So much so that the disciples practically begged Jesus to grant her request to quench her outcry. Wanting to draw out the contrast between the pride of religious bigotry and the power of persistent faith, Jesus stood by while she pleaded her case, despite insults and obstacles. No matter what Jesus and his disciples said to her, she dug in her heels, determined to get healing for her child.
At surface reading, it could seem like Jesus was being unintentionally cruel to this woman. But maybe it was more for our benefit, to show us the extent of her faith.
Sometimes the marginalized refuse to be silenced. She knew that Jesus could help her, and she refused to leave him alone until he granted her request.
At one time, not being Israelites would have excluded us from access to God and his promise of salvation. But because of Jesus’s sacrificial death, God has granted access to all who will come to him in faith. That means that we have 24/7 access to him. He promises to not only hear us, but to answer our prayers, according to his will. As women, this gives us the ultimate confidence. When we feel dismissed or undervalued, Jesus lovingly reminds us of how special we are to him and that our identities are anchored in him.