I love the story in Matthew 15:21-28, of the interaction of Jesus and a Canaanite woman. It is not your normal “Jesus does a miracle” story. Do not get me wrong, all of the miracles of Jesus were great, but this is unusual (if there is a “usual” for Jesus). We normally think of Jesus as kind and compassionate, and eager to minister to the hurting. This story does not work that way.
The woman calls to Jesus to deliver her daughter suffering from demon possession. Jesus’ first response is to ignore her; v.23 “Jesus did not answer a word”. Ever feel that your requests are just plain ignored? Well, here is an example of it happening! She called enough times to aggravate the disciples. They said, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” Next, Jesus declares, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” He told her that He would not grant her request because she was not part of the covenant with Israel. So, first Jesus ignored her, then he told her no. Lastly He insulted her. “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” Jesus was the bread and she was the dog. Not the “usual” Jesus.
As unusual as the story is so far, the next part is the amazing part. The woman agrees with Jesus that she is a dog that willingly eats the crumbs that fall from the master’s table! The psychologists would have told her to not lose her self-respect. But Jesus said she had “great faith” (v. 28). I can only imagine her thinking might be. Maybe she realized her daughter’s problem was one of millions in the world, and the world was a small part of the universe, and the universe is small to God. Therefore, a single crumb falling from God’s table would be large in the universe, gigantic compared to the world, overwhelmingly massive to her. Isaiah says that God measures the islands of the earth as if they were “fine dust” (Isaiah 40:15). Crumbs were more than what she needed. She just needed her daughter delivered.
Most of us quit praying when we feel like we have been ignored. We definitely would quit praying if Jesus told us no. Would anyone keep praying for something if were ignored, told no, and insulted on top of that? I think not. But Jesus said this woman had “great faith”. Her petition was granted. Her daughter was healed.
I want to have “great faith”.