Posted on February 5, 2014
#40: Not a Quitter
Can you recall a time when you wanted something so badly that you went to great effort to get it, persisting through obstacles and delays, holding on when all seemed lost? What held such power over you that nothing could make you give up? Today, we meet a woman who refused to quit and was rewarded with the answer she sought.
Welcome to Knowing Jesus. Pick up your Bible and let’s get started!
Read Mark 7:24-30, and its parallel passage in Matthew 15:21-28.
Jesus was again looking for some privacy, a break from the ever-present crowds. As his fame spread, His whereabouts became harder to hide. He slipped off to the region of Tyre where He wasn’t as well known, and went into a private home rather than the synagogue. But before long word went out that Jesus had come to town.
One of those who heard was a woman with a desperate need, who came straight to Jesus and fell at His feet.
Mark 7:28 contains the only use of the title “Lord” found in Mark’s gospel—and it came from the lips of this Gentile woman, a person the Jews would have viewed as less than worthless. What a contrast between the shallow, self-serving “religion” of the Jewish leaders and the deep, desperate faith of a pagan woman. Her daughter was being tormented by an evil spirit, and she was being tormented by her beloved daughter’s suffering—so much so that she presented her child’s case as her own, asking, “Lord, have mercy on me.” (Matthew 15:22)
According to Matthew’s record, Jesus’ first response was no response. He met her plea with total silence. Her continuing cries caused the Twelve to urge Jesus to send her away. And when Jesus finally did speak to her, He wasn’t very encouraging: “First let the children eat all they want, for it’s not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
She wouldn’t be deterred. “Yes, Lord,” she persisted, “but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Her determined faith pleased Jesus very much. (Remember that without faith, it’s impossible to please Him! Hebrews 11:6 states that clearly, and teaches us that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him, as this woman did.) When she got home, her daughter was resting peacefully, demon-free.
We can learn so much from this woman’s example. She was not a quitter! She pressed on through:
• dead air. When her urgent cry echoed in the Lord’s silence, she kept right on crying out. What if she had quit? What if she’d walked away at this point, thinking, “He’s not interested in helping me.” Are your cries meeting the Lord’s silence? He’s listening and He loves you, even if He hasn’t yet shown you a response. Don’t stop asking until a clear answer comes.
• discouragement. When those around her were trying to silence her, when the Lord seemed to be ignoring her, she continued to press her case. What if she’d given in and gone away? So often, we surrender to discouragement and stop asking—when if we’d kept pleading, we might have received His favor. (Why does He make us wait? There could be several reasons, including proper timing, important lessons in the delay, heightened anticipation of the answer, or just to see if we want the answer badly enough to persevere.)
• apparent denial. When Jesus finally acknowledged her only to imply that He wouldn’t grant her request, she refused to fall back. She needed His help, and she wouldn’t leave without an answer. We’d do well to follow her lead. Until we can see an clear “yes” or “no,” we should continue asking. Andrew Murray, a great teacher on the subject of prayer, wrote, “Prayer and its answer belong to each other. . . . Persevere until the answer comes. Prayer is supposed to have an answer.”
In every need we bring to God’s attention, we must be willing to persist indefinitely for the answer. Through dead air, discouragement, and even apparent denial, we keep laying out our case. His answer could be just one prayer away—and we don’t want to miss it by giving up too soon! Don’t quit, keep on.
What do you think?
Do you agree that prayer is supposed to have an answer? How might that understanding change the way you pray?
© Diane McLoud 2014