I can think of no greater faith than that of the Syrophoenician woman – whose name we don’t even know. But she was an amazing woman, to be sure. And, to be sure, it was her faith that made her amazing. She had faith in an amazing God. And she refused to believe the worst about God, only the very best.
Now think of it, the Master of all masters, the Lord of all lords, the King of all kings, comes up to you and says, “You say you want your daughter to be healed? I don’t think you understand, my dear, but it’s not good to do these type of things for outsiders like you. I came for Israel!”
How do you respond to such a statement? (For that is, loosely translated, what Jesus replied to her when she asked Him to heal her daughter.)
Now, please, let’s take a poll and find out, honestly, how many of us would have had the courage to say another word! Most people would have said, “Yes, Lord. Your wish is my command.” And then they would have resigned themselves to a corner and sulked for the very rest of their lives! Ouch!
This woman, though, had an underlying belief structure, and that belief structure said to her, GOOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME! And she refused to let go of that! She is a wonderful woman, in this sense. And she is truly a wonderful example for all of us. Follow this woman, I say. Follow her! She has provided us a great example to greatly follow, and if we would follow her example every day for the very rest of our God-given, full of potential lives, there is absolutely no doubt we would see great things happen!
Now for those of you who don’t know what this woman did in response to Jesus’s comments, she responded (again, loosely translated, so you can get the full point), “You know, Lord, I agree that you came to bless Israel. But as Israel is blessed, so, too, will others be blessed because of the blessing that you bestow upon them!”
Now listen, the woman didn’t even have to say, again, “PLEASE GIVE IT TO ME!” That’s because she was filled with such praise and assurance of God’s promises and God’s will and the reality of God’s character, which was somehow emblazoned upon her spirit. When Jesus heard this statement (literally, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs” – Mark 7:28), Jesus responded by saying, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” (Matthew 15:28b) The result? “And her daughter was healed at once.” (Matthew 15:28c)
Now you have to understand why this woman’s faith was great as Jesus said it was. I believe her faith was great for the following reasons. So if you also want to procure healing for someone you love, or for yourself, remember what it takes to have great faith! These elements, directly from the passage, are as follows:
1. To have great faith and procure healing, you need to believe God is merciful. For we read the woman saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David” (Matthew 15:22b). Do you believe God is merciful? Do you believe He wants to have mercy on YOU in YOUR situation today? He does! This woman BELIEVED IT AND RECEIVED IT BECAUSE SHE DID.
2. To have great faith and procure healing, you need to believe that Jesus is the LORD. For this woman said, “Have mercy on me, LORD, Son of David” in the same verse just mentioned. I assume you already believe that He is Lord, but if you have not made Jesus Lord of your life, you need to do so. Otherwise, it doesn’t make much sense for Him to answer your request, don’t you think, if you are not willing to be His servant? Note that He’s a good Lord, so your service is voluntary and not forced. Nevertheless, if you truly believe He is Lord, then you will serve Him gladly and voluntarily. Are you doing that? I think we can be pretty sure by this woman’s response that she was following God to the very best of her abilities. I believe God expects us to do that, and really, it is only in the midst of that that I believe He will normally heal us or grant us our requests (for in Psalm 66:18, it says, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear”).
3. To have great faith and procure healing, it’s important to understand that we are living in a spiritual war in which there are real, demonic forces at work. This woman said, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” (Matthew 15:22, NASB) Note that what the NASB renders “my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed” is probably much better translated, “My daughter is cruelly afflicted by an evil spirit.” (Message Bible) For evil spirits cannot truly “possess” a person. They do control people inasmuch as we yield ourselves to their control. That is a lot different than “possession” and there is no actual Greek word “demon-possession”. The word that the Bible uses is “δαιμονιζεται” which is probably best translated “demonized”. The woman described the problem accurately when she spoke with Jesus. She said it was caused by an evil spirit, and she was right! How many of us can describe the problem properly before we even go to Jesus? It might be good for us to ask Jesus what the problem is to begin with! We might be surprised at the answer He gives!
4. To have great faith and procure healing, you need to believe that God loves you and is very interested in you EVEN if He appears to be ignoring you! For we read, “Jesus ignored her.” (Matthew 15:23a, Message) Hum. Why did He do that? I think He did that to test her, to be sure! For we read God saying, “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:10) This woman was being tested before she would receive the healing!
5. To have great faith and procure healing, you will need to pursue those who are themselves close to Jesus in what He is doing in the world today. For we read the disciples complaining, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” (Matthew 15:23b) Who was the woman crying out after in this passage? It was the group of them, not just Jesus, for they said, “she keeps crying out after us”. It looks like this woman knew that she needed to get the attention of the disciples if she would be able to get to Jesus. Now you may think, “I don’t need to go to any man. I can go straight to Jesus.” However, even the Bible says to approach the elders of the church if we want healing. “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.” (James 5:14-15) On this note, be careful of your paradigm. More than fifteen years ago, I originally called on the elders of the church to pray for me, and they did – very hurriedly, and without any faith. This passage says that the prayer offered in FAITH will restore the one who is sick. You need to find a FAITH FILLED environment where healing is PRACTICED and EXPERIENCED on a regular basis. THESE elders will pray for you, and you WILL be healed!
Press in, my friend, and get healed!
“From there Jesus took a trip to Tyre and Sidon. They had hardly arrived when a Canaanite woman came down from the hills and pleaded, ‘Mercy, Master, Son of David! My daughter is cruelly afflicted by an evil spirit.’ Jesus ignored her. The disciples came and complained, ‘Now she’s bothering us. Would you please take care of her? She’s driving us crazy.’ Jesus refused, telling them, ‘I’ve got my hands full dealing with the lost sheep of Israel.’ Then the woman came back to Jesus, went to her knees, and begged. ‘Master, help me.’ He said, ‘It’s not right to take bread out of children’s mouths and throw it to dogs.’ She was quick: ‘You’re right, Master, but beggar dogs do get scraps from the master’s table.’ Jesus gave in. ‘Oh, woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get!’ Right then her daughter became well.” (Matthew 15:21-28, Message Bible)