Sometimes a crisis can propel you to Jesus’ feet in a way that nothing else can.
Nobody wants them, but they always come. A crisis can enter into your life at any moment, and shake things up dramatically. Getting fired at work, the death of a loved one, an automobile accident, a marital conflict, a rebellious child, a tornado: All of these (and a million others) are examples of crises that people regularly must deal with.
In Matthew 15, we read of a woman who faced a tough situation, a real crisis. Her daughter was possessed by a demon (v.22). This woman was a Gentile, a Canaanite. But she approached Jesus anyway, begging him to help her daughter. He ignored her. She got on the disciples nerves by crying out and begging Jesus to listen. They wanted her gone, but she kept coming.
She was a woman of great faith. She knew that Jesus was the only solution to her crisis, and she was not about to give up under any circumstances. But how did she know Jesus was the only solution? She must have read about him in the Scriptures. She must have! She was a Gentile, but when she spoke to Jesus, she called him the “Son of David.”
We also know she studied the prophecies about Jesus, because when he tells her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” she kept coming at him, saying, “Lord, help me” (vv.24-25). She knew from the Word of God that this Jewish Messiah’s mission involved the whole world, not just the nation of Israel. Jesus continued to test her knowledge and faith when he said, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” (v.26). Someone who had never studied the Word would have been defeated at that point, but not this woman. She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table” (v.27).
She says, “Yes, Lord,” because she understands Jesus’ priority to the house of Jacob. He came to earth in order to minister to the Jewish people, and that was the central focus of his ministry. But she also understood that his mission to the Israelites was ultimately a mission to the whole world (the dogs). She knew that, “God so love the world,” and that he had sent his son for the benefit of the whole world. The Apostle Paul would later clarify this:
Romans 15:8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.
When she revealed her knowledge and faith in this manner, Jesus commended her! “O woman, great is your faith!” And then he granted her request, “Be it done for you as you desire” (v.28).
What a wonderful example of how to handle a crisis! Here is a summary of the lessons we learn from this wise and faithful Gentile woman:
- When crisis hits, come to Jesus quickly and ask for help.
- When crisis hits, keep coming to Jesus persistently. Don’t let anything stand in your way.
- When crisis hits, study your Bible carefully. This way, you will understand the power of Christ to help those who suffer. And you will understand his love for his children, whether Jew or Gentile.
- When crisis hits, see it as an opportunity to enhance your relationship to Christ. That is, by depending upon him for solutions, you get to know him much better.
For more details on this topic and passage, let me point you to my sermon from this past Sunday, Do You Need a Crisis?