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)
"God heard their cry of grief, and God remembered his covenant." (Exodus 2:24)
Eighteenth-century deism sought to extract God from the messy affairs of human history. Deism portrayed God as a clockmaker who intricately fashioned the "movement" that is creation, then set the timepiece to tick away on its own. A similar image depicted God as Architect of All, who then withdraws so that humanity can be guided by its God-given gift of reason. But where does hope lie when men and women, and the institutional powers they create, act unreasonably? Unjustly? Without compassion? What happens when the appeals of reason fall on ears that are indifferent if not hostile to those appeals?
The descendants of Israel suffered in Egypt under such oppressive power. Out of pain and fatigue, the people cried out to God. It simply says, "They cried out" (Exodus 2:23). If deism is true, if God is a non-interventionalist, the Hebrews are out of luck.
But they are not. "God heard their cry...and God remembered.'' (verse 24). From this act of hearing and remembrance comes intervention celebrated by Israel as deliverence. God valuled relationship and human community to the extent that God was willing to engage in human and social affairs for the sake of transformation.
Do you believe that story? Do you believe that God hears and remembers - and intervenes?
Jesus intervened for the Canaanite woman and healed her daughter. The Canaanite woman sought out an encounter with the One she knew could save her daughter. And she did not stop until she proved to Jesus and the others that she knew who He was and believed. Jesus granted her request because of her faith. And I dare say she was transformed.
Does your prayer and worship seek encounters with One who is more than simply present to our celebrations of life and community, or to our grievings of their brokenness or failures?
Does your prayer and worship seek the God who may intervene in response to cries for and by vulnerable ones?
Heavenly Father, You have created the world and all that is within it. We are thankful that you do hear our cries and remember your promises and that you step into our lives and circumstances as Your will is done. We are so thankful that you are a God that wants a relationship with each of us and delights in us and shares every aspect of our lives. Increase our faith Lord. Help us to believe as the Canaanite woman so that we might hear you say to us, "You have great faith!" In Jesus' name, Amen!