I was reading this morning Matthew 15 and came across a well-known passage of a Canaanite woman whose daughter was oppressed by a demon. Being a Gentile, Jesus directly tells her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” and “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs*.” Talk about Ouch! If it were me, and I was the one receiving such a message from Jesus, I probably would have turned around feeling defeated, demoralized, hurt, rejected, and even angry. For my human tendency would be to feel that I am owed my daughter’s healing—what is the difference between my daughter and I and the others Jesus has healed—I have the right to receive some of the blessings and healings he [Jesus] is dispensing towards Israel.
However, the woman responds, not in an act of pride, arrogance, and demand (like I probably would), but instead responds in an act of humility and faith. She tells Jesus, “Yes, Lord (you are right), yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” This woman, in her pithy response, displays great humility, faith, perspective, gratefulness, and insight. Agreeing with Jesus, she takes the position of the dog and in great perspective she tells him that she (like the dogs) will take whatever falls from his table. Believing in Jesus, she believes that whatever falls from his table would be enough to heal her daughter and satisfy the hungry cravings of a so-called dog. Humbling herself before Jesus, this woman is grateful for whatever good she gets. In right perspective, she knows she is at the mercy of Jesus, and he is her only hope.
This woman is a gentle reminder that great faith, according to Jesus, is accompanied by great humility, perspective, and gratefulness. This does not mean great faith is not bold and persistent, for we see those two characteristics in this woman; great faith remembers the object of the faith and the condition of the one who would receive such blessing from that object. Whatever it is that is in our life we are praying for, or in need for; let us remember the lesson of the Canaanite woman—great faith is accompanied by great humility, perspective, insight and gratefulness.
* Gentiles were referred to as dogs by the Jews.