Tuesday, June 13, 2023

A Persistent Faith

 Tuesday, June 13, 2023 Some material taken from "Is it Time to Pivot?" by Dr. Craig Christina

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:21-28

A Persistent Faith

There are many meanings to the word Pivot. Websters Dictionary defines pivot as "to turn on or as if on a pivot." It also defines is as "to adapt or improve by adjusting or modifying something (such as a product, service, or strategy)." Both of these definitions are important to know in the face of change. It takes great faith to pivot when it is time to pivot. Yesterday we talked about having a passionate faith. To have great faith, we also need to have a persistent faith.

A Canaanite woman came to Jesus and asked for her daughter to be healed as she was oppressed by a demon. Jesus ignored her but the woman kept crying after the disciples for help. They were irritated and asked Jesus if He would just deal with her so she would go away, but Jesus told them that He was busy doing what He was sent to do - taking care of the lost Jews. But she doesn’t get discouraged at His ignoring her. She drops to her knees before Him in desperation, asking again for Him to help her.

A persistent faith is a faith that doesn’t quit in the face of adversity. In the passage above, the woman could not help the fact that she was a Gentile. She had no control over that. She wasn’t there to gain His blessing on her, but to ask for His help. Just three words - “Lord, help me.”  Jesus answered with even more disparaging remarks - “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” She replied in persistent faith, never missing a beat. “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” 

This was the point at which Jesus pivots. Two more words – “Yet even…” show that the woman humbles herself and acknowledges that even though He came to save the Jews, she understands that His ministry is for others as well. She knew she was not one of the “chosen” and she was not asking to be treated as one. She just wanted the crumbs – just enough to save her daughter. She doesn’t give up. She persists because she knows what she has heard about this Messiah, this Healer. Her faith was persistent because she also knew there was no other answer. It would have been easy to be turned away by Jesus ignoring her or not giving her the answer she expected immediately, but she does not give up. A persistent faith does not give up. 

For us, a persistent faith keeps us from straying. It helps us to get up on days when the weight of the world is crushing us. It keeps us putting one foot in front of the other in faith when discouragement tries to hold us back. When we persist in faith after God, we have an unshakable faith that cannot be destroyed no matter what happens. But a persistent faith has to be intentional. A persistent faith does not happen automatically. Without being intentional and determined to have a persistent faith, we can be thrown off by doubts, trials, and what seems like unanswered prayers. This woman’s persistent faith was noticed by Jesus and rewarded. This is an example for us that we are to have persistent faith, even when we think we are being ignored by God, or even when we think we are unworthy of His help. Persistent faith is the key to living victoriously, even in adversity. Persistent faith pushes forward and knows that God is able, no matter what the circumstances are. 

Are you saying those three words today?" Lord Help Me" - even if it is all the words you can say - it is all He needs to hear. 

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