There are moments when it looks as if God does not answer prayers. There are times when we pray, but it seems as if God has turned His back on us. The encounter today between Jesus and the Canaanite woman teaches us to never give up on God.
Sometimes, when we encounter challenges, there is always the tendency to lose hope in God. The story of the Canaanite woman today simple indicates that sometimes it is not that God is not hearing us but maybe testing how strong is our belief to do what we are asking.
Therefore, if we believe that He can do what we ask, we should never give up on God.
God is so loving and merciful. David says that His love is precious and those who hide under His wings are lucky ( Psalms 36:7).
Therefore, if God is what we believe Him to be, we have no reason to give up on Him.
So, never give up on God. Let us go through the gospel of today to see the reason we should not give up on God.
The Woman is Not A Jew.
The first thing we have to note here is that this woman is a Canaanite. She is not a jew. The gospel of today happens when Jesus enters the territory of Tyre and Sidon, which are gentile territories. Hence, this shows that Jesus listens to all. He does not segregate. Therefore, do not believe that there are people who are luckier than you do. God is for everyone.
First Contact With Jesus.
There also is a probability that this woman has not come in contact with Jesus before. It could be her first time. She is not a jew and may not be among the followers of Jesus.
The gospel says that she came from the district, shouting to Jesus. So, there is the possibility that she may have come to Him only through what she hears about Jesus. She may have heard about Jesus.
From her attitude, you will see someone who believed that all she heard was true. The truth is that something must have given her such confidence and courage to persist in asking.
Hence, can the things we hear about Jesus also make our belief strong?
Do we believe the things we hear about Jesus? Or do we take them as mere stories to entertain our imagination?
Can we come to faith in God through His Word? Do we truly believe in His promises?
If we do, we should never give on God. When we believe in His Word, we shall keep to the word and live on what the word says.
Determination Makes A Way.
In the gospel, we see in this woman a determined spirit, one who is ready to face the worst to get the best.
We see in this woman one who is ready to remain unstoppable even in the face of rejection, and Jesus rewards her with a miracle and blessing.
Thomas Aquinas says that faith is the act of accepting that God will do something when we are yet to see it. It is focusing on the blessings and not on the challenges along the journey.
Mahatma Gandhi says; if you do not believe you will get what you want, never approach the presence of the Almighty. It is a waste of time.
It is why in Hebrews 11:6, God says that before you approach the presence of God, you must, first of all, believe that He exists”.
All through the bible, no person approaches God with faith and sincere heart and still comes out remaining the same.
Hence, today, when we pray, small challenges come, we lose faith very easy. We blame God, blame Jesus Christ, and begin to worry etc.
St Theresa of Calcutta says that “to worry is a sign you do not believe in the first place”. No faith has gone unrewarded. So, never give up on God.
Today, many people only go to church and fulfil every obligation. Hence, when problems come, they look elsewhere for solutions.
We do not seem to believe what we profess. From the lesson of the Canaanite woman today, we can see that what we say and what we do during the time of need defines our faith.
Some factors must have stopped this woman today. They are:
1. She is a gentile. The gentiles were belittled and looked down upon by the Jews. She would have thought in her heart; that this man will not listen to her, or the disciples would send her away since they have nothing in common with them etc. These eventually happened.
Hence, to tell us she does not harbour any negative thoughts ab initio, she continues to ask.
When we go in His presence, what comes to our mind first? The woman with the issue of blood says; if I touch His cloak, I will be made well.
That thing that comes to our mind first can affect the way we pray and the effect of our prayers.
2. Another factor that would have stopped her is that at her first request, Jesus did not utter a word. Only this would have stopped her, but she remains unstoppable.
3.The Apostles try to shout her down and even tell Jesus to send her away. Yet this woman remains unstoppable. It is a lesson to all of us.
Therefore, when you are keen to get a favour from God, and it looks as if it is not coming to the extent people begin to advise you to stop and lose faith, please never give up on God.
4. At a point in this gospel, Jesus tells her that God sends Him only to the Lost Sheep of Israel.
At this point, she would have given up entirely. Here it looks as if Jesus is rejecting her. But even upon that, she went further and knelt begging.
Therefore, when it looks as if God is keeping silent to your prayers, it is not a sign that you give up but a sign that you pray all the more. When Jesus does as if He is not listening to the woman, she goes further to kneel and beg. Most of us would have given up at this time.
5.Jesus goes to the extreme to say that it is not good to take bread meant for children and throw it to little dogs. In a way, Jesus is referring to the gentiles as dogs.
Hence, No one can withstand such a word from Jesus. Some people may even take it as an insult. Yet this woman persisted that even the little dogs eat crumbs that fall from the table of their master.
Therefore, she is ready to accept even the smallest of blessings from the Lord. Therefore, when challenges push you to the extreme, learn to launch your attack back in a stronger faith.
At last, this woman gets what she wants from Jesus. What would have happened if she lost faith on the way.
So, never give up on God. The time of trial can be the time that what you are seeking is already around the corner.
More Lessons to grab.
There are more lessons we can grab from the attitude of this woman today, and they are:
1. Persistence in prayer is the key to everything. It is why Jesus tells His disciples to pray always and not lose heart. (Luke 18:1).
2. God can use many challenges to test our faith in Him. So, never give up on God when the tests come.
3. When we seek the presence of God, do not be stopped by temptations and challenges. Never give up on God even when it looks as if He is far.
4. When problems come, the magnitude of our prayers should increase and not decrease. We have to challenge our challenges. We call them challenges, so we have to challenge them.
5. Every heart that has faith and is not ready to be moved despite the challenges gladdens the heart of Jesus. Jesus marvels at the attitude of this woman today.
6. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. It happens if we keep moving to the end of the tunnel. So, never give up on God.
May God bless and help us to overcome our challenges. May He never allow you to stumble. Amen.