“Remember, O Lord, Thy tender mercies and Thy loving-kindnesses, for they have been ever of old. Let not mine enemies triumph over me. God of Israel, deliver us out of all our troubles.” But the Canaanite woman must have been wondering if God had lied. For here He was, God in the flesh, and He was utterly ignoring her. Was He really going to let Satan triumph over her and her daughter? Would The Servant of The LORD really let His ancient foe win this war?
She really had no right to be running after Him. He could have said to her, “Woman, what have I to do with you?” After all, Israel had been commanded to wipe out all the Canaanites from the face of the earth back when they entered the Promised Land. Israel failed. They often payed for it too – wicked Queen Jezebel, that great foil in the story of Elijah, who brought much evil into the northern kingdom, was a Canaanite. Jesus, if He’s like us, would be holding a grudge against them and wouldn’t want to help her. He might even give her the exact opposite of what she wanted, which would have been far worse.
But she didn’t give up. She didn’t ask just once. If you ask for something and get turned down, you might sulk. She kept on asking. Jesus and His disciples kept right on walking and she kept on following them and yelling at Him from behind. She was getting so annoying the disciples finally interceded for her. They didn’t care whether He helped that Gentile; they just wanted her to be quiet and leave them alone – and they probably weren’t happy being up there in Gentile territory and were probably wondering the entire time they were up there just why they were there!
They wanted Him to help her just so she’d go away. When she first cried, He ignored her. This time He seemed to tell them she had no business asking for His help; He wasn’t here for her. He was sent for Israel alone. He was just on break up there in Gentile territory. He wasn’t going to help her. They should just relax and enjoy their Lebanon vacation.
But she didn’t leave them alone. She wasn’t going to let them have their spring break until He helped her by casting the demon out of her daughter. So she begged. He basically told her she had no claim to Him, so He didn’t have to help her and wasn’t going to. After all, she was a Gentile, and He was a Jew, which meant she was a dog to Him. That’s what the Jews thought about Gentiles. But she caught Him in His words. He mentioned a pet dog, not a wild dog. He had never said no in the first place. He had always intended to help her, to do exactly what she needed Him to do for her. He had been exercising her faith, both for her good and for His disciples’ good.
What was so good about it for her? He ignored her. He humiliated her. His disciples patronized her. Her daughter was left in torture another hour. But she received much. She received opportunities to confess her faith. She got to teach the disciples a few things too. She was commended by her Lord because of her perseverance. She learned how much her Lord did indeed love her, that He always wanted to help her, that He had come there precisely to help her, and she was strengthened in the true faith unto life everlasting.
What did the disciples learn? They learned Jesus is not just for Jews, but also for us Gentiles. They learned He came to destroy the work of the devil and to help all people. They learned He desires nobody to be put to shame for all eternity. He desires to help us and bring us unto everlasting life. They learned He always answers the prayers of His people. He is The Servant of The Lord. He serves The Lord by serving us. For The Lord sent Him to serve us by saving us. Have you ever felt like God wasn’t hearing you? Did it seem like He was taking too long to answer you or He didn’t understand the problem? Perhaps you had an illness that just wasn’t going away or recovery wasn’t going as fast as you wanted. Perhaps you were tired of being single or waiting for kids, or the kids weren’t who you hoped for. Perhaps work was horrible or things weren’t going right in your family, close or extended. You prayed but your prayers seemed unanswered. The answer was “no,” or “not yet, just wait a while, it’s not time yet.” It wasn’t the answer you wanted, after all the answer you wanted was “Yes, sir, right away, sir!”
That’s a reason God makes us wait sometimes. He wants us to realize we aren’t in control, we’re not His boss. He’s in control. He’s the boss. He gets to decide when things happen. He’ll use these things to teach us we don’t trust Him as much as we should – nobody does – but instead have been trusting in our own abilities or strength too much. He’ll use them to turn us back to Him when we’ve strayed or to get our attention when we’ve been paying no attention to Him. It would do us no good for Him to help us if we’d take it to mean we’re doing OK with our Christian life when we aren’t.
Sometimes there are other reasons He doesn’t answer right away. He’ll use us for a time to show His love to others, whether in the hospital or the workforce or the family. He’ll use something to prepare us for our last days and to enter paradise in the true faith, not doubting but firmly believing His promises. He’ll train us for things He’ll throw our way in the future, teaching us how to live the Christian life here.
God never abandons His faithful people. He never forsakes them. No, He shines His face on them. How can you be sure of that? Go to Calvary. See the sun turn off. Hear Christ Jesus cry: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” God forsaking God? God suffering hell? Why? For us who ought to suffer hell, who ought to be forsaken by Him through all eternity.
God should forsake us? Yes. For we have been sinful and unclean. Perhaps you haven’t always controlled your mind and thoughts when it comes to sexual things, as Paul says in the Epistle. Perhaps you’ve wronged somebody else – cheated them out of something or slapped or mocked him, or even just dreamed of doing something like that. Each of these sins ought to cause God to forsake us forever in hell. That’s what His Law says. It says we’re sinners worthy of eternity without Him, far away from Him.
But He forsook His Son, His Servant, instead. Christ served God by suffering for all our sins upon The Cross, yes for all our sins of mind and body, against our own bodies and against others. He was declared guilty for them and punished for them. That means God declares you not guilty of those same sins. Christ Jesus declares we Gentiles are the lost sheep of Israel’s house and He came to seek and to save us. He declares He will be with you always, to the end of the age.
Therefore He promises to bring you out of all your distresses. It may not happen in this sin-filled life, but it will happen when He brings you to paradise and then most fully when He raises you from the dead. Then all your prayers will be answered, all your troubles will be ended, and all your desires will be fulfilled. Then He will serve you, and you will serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.