Sunday 16th August 2020
I hope and pray that this letter finds you well. Perseverance is not always easy particularly when times are difficult or when there seems no end in sight. One could argue now is such a time when peoples patience and resilience has been tested to the extreme. We are told in Romans 5: 3b-4 ‘knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope’ however, it is easier said than done! Going through suffering can produce positives outcomes but can be very challenging indeed.
We continue our journey through Matthew and this week look at chapter 15: 21-28 where Jesus’ encounters a Canaanite woman. The passage begins with Jesus withdrawing from the previous place and going to the region of Tyre and Sidon. What is important here is that Jesus took time out between periods of his ministry. So should we, constantly working, whatever form the work may take, is not good for us. Although work patterns may have recently changed we all need to rest and relax and spend time doing leisure activities. This may be difficult at present, so may visits to family and friends but the principle remains true. All work and no play does not help anybody.
Jesus is minding his own business when a woman cries out to him asking for help. Given that she calls Jesus, Lord and Son of David suggests that she is well educated or knows something of Jesus and his work. Perhaps both or perhaps she has heard rumours and wants to put it to the test. Either way, her daughter is suffering and that surely is her main concern. The disciples are keen for Jesus to dispatch the woman but Jesus tells them quite surprisingly she is not his concern. However, the woman is not easily rebuffed and despite the silent treatment from Jesus she chooses to kneel at his feet and beg for help. Jesus’ response again is shocking and very rude and offensive. It could be argued that this was a deliberate act of provocation to test her resolve and yet again, her reply is both courteous and delivered in a calm manner. For a woman to have done this to a stranger in this society breaching social norms shows tremendous courage and tenacity. Jesus responds by telling the woman that she has great faith and granting her request. The next second part of the verse tells us that her daughter was healed immediately.
So what do we learn from this episode, that perseverance produces results, that faith overcomes in the end and that Jesus is always there to listen even if he doesn’t respond straightaway. Perseverance is crucial in the journey of faith because often things don’t happen when or how we expect. Let us persist in our faith even through adversity because ultimately in this life or the next we will be blessed in some way.
May the Lord Jesus Christ; healer and sustainer bless you, now and always,