Further and Deeper into Faith

by Darci J. Steiner

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.’ 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.’ ‘Yes it is, Lord,’ she said. ‘Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’ Then Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed at that moment. Matthew 15:21-28 NIV

This woman represents Israel’s ancient rival, the Canaanites. Her encounter with Jesus lays on the boundary of old and new. The woman approaches Jesus like an arrow aimed at the bullseye. She knows he is her only hope for the healing of her daughter. She reaches across the racial boundary line and asks for help. She refers to Jesus as “Lord,” displaying her first sign of faith. But Jesus meets her request with deafening silence.

Why silence? Because silence serves a purpose, like space between words, like margins in a book. When we read the Psalms, we often read that the psalmists felt abandoned, but God never abandons. His silence, like his actions, always serve a purpose. Jesus’ silence in this story stirs the woman further and deeper into persistent faith.

She cries out again, but Jesus has a seemingly harsh response: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 15:24 NIV). She kneels before him, and respectfully asks him again. Jesus gives a reply that stings. Is he saying she is like a dog because she’s from Canaan? But she longs for what his chosen people have been given: help.

The future of mankind hinges on this woman’s repeated request; a Gentile asking for something from the Lord of the Jewish nation, Israel. Her persistence blurs the boundary between Jews and Gentiles. Everything about her request demonstrates her understanding that Jesus is Lord of all —that she should be included too— “…even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s [Israel’s] table” (Matt. 15:27 NIV). The arrow just hit the bullseye.

If you are a mother, you understand the desperation you feel when you summon the Lord on behalf of your child. When my daughter was a junior in high school, she lay on a hospital bed after her ACL surgery in heartbreaking pain. Turns out the anesthesiologist missed the mark AND the nurse forgot to give her pain medicine. My daughter had endured ACL surgery with no numbing effect and no medication.

After surgery, to make up for time, she was given pain meds spaced too closely together. I held her hair back while she vomited all night long. And I prayed for my daughter. Then her oxygen level tanked. I summoned the Lord. Then I pleaded with God for the ice machine to arrive.

Why was my daughter having such a hard time receiving the help she needed? Perhaps God wanted to take us further and deeper into faith. I could do nothing to fix her pain. My role was to hold her hand, hold back her hair, and hold on to Jesus. Like the Canaanite woman, I too was desperate for my daughter’s healing. Jen missed her senior year of high school and competitive soccer.

However, she spoke at her high school graduation, to thousands of students, parents, and educators about adversity, and how her Healer brought her through her ordeal. She was told by the administration she couldn’t speak about God, so she spoke about Jesus, on the platform he gave her. She decided her story wasn’t her story without Jesus. Neither was the Canaanite woman’s daughter.

Sometimes the space of silence drives us further and deeper into faith. We must greet the silence as an invitation to sit in the space knowing the Almighty God has a reason. His silence, like his actions, always serve an equally powerful purpose.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Darci J. Steiner has served in full-time ministry and assisted with church plants in Denver and Los Angeles. In 2001, she nearly lost her life after a debilitating fall down the stairs in her home. During her recovery, she earned her Master of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition and implemented natural remedies into her diet that helped save her life. When Darci became disabled a second time after a foot injury in 2018, she wrote her award-winning debut book, Beauty Beyond the Thorns: Discovering Gifts in Suffering. Darci and her husband enjoy two adult daughters, one son-in law, and a baby granddaughter. They live in the Denver area. Please keep in touch at www.darcijsteiner.com

Join the conversation: When did the silence of God drive you deeper?

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4 thoughts on “Further and Deeper into Faith

  1. Beautiful, Darci. We never know who is watching our pause — waiting to see what happens next. Witnessing that rescue, healing, breakthrough goes a long way, doesn’t it? It’s interesting how Jesus began demonstrating the “set time” for the nations to be part of the kingdom of God with women.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Terri. There are so many pauses, then God usually does something big! I love that he used this Caananite woman to demonstrate their inclusion into his kingdom. I applaud her respectful wit and grit!

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  3. What a wonderful story of God’s redemption of what seems to us–and feels like–disaster. I’m sad your daughter suffered–and you also, but rejoice in God’s use of disaster.

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  4. Thank you. That was a difficult experience, but he used it for good. Our faith was strengthened as a result and many people cheered Jen on as she spoke about Jesus, the reason for her hope.

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