Week 6– Lent Series 2020 – Matthew 15:21-28 The Faith of a Canaanite Woman

Stories | April 3, 2020

Have you ever had your calls for help dismissed?

Were you able to persevere to get the help you needed?

After a long day debating the Pharisees and ministering to the crowd in Gennesaret, we read that Jesus and the disciples are withdrawing to the region of Tyre and Sidon. This retreat is more than likely an opportunity to create space for prayer and reflection so that they can be renewed and restored for future ministry.

When a Canaanite woman is heard crying out in desperation for the needs of her suffering daughter, we read that the initial response of the disciples is to dismiss her. Jesus then invites her into dialogue however it is a rather confusing conversation.

Why does Jesus respond to the mother’s cries for help by seemingly referring to her as a ‘dog’?

Why does Jesus then appear to change his tune and offer the mother the restoration for her daughter’s health that she so desperately wanted?

This passage reminds me of the faith and perseverance of many parents of children with a disability. Parents who wholeheartedly love and advocate for their child in the face of numerous challenges. Barriers to accessing health services, barriers to inclusion in schools, and barriers to acceptance and genuine friendship in communities.

CBM’s partners in the Philippines recently shared a  story about a program that helps communities to include children and youth with disabilities. CBM staff met a father-Rodel whose son-Jundel is part of the program. Rodel is the primary carer for his son. Initially he did not understand why his son was not growing and developing the way his other siblings were. The project linked the family to appropriate health services and Jundel was diagnosed as having microcephaly. (Microcephaly is a condition where the head circumference is smaller than normal. Symptoms vary, but can include developmental delay, intellectual disability or problems with movement and balance.)

With a diagnosis, Jundel was welcomed into into the project supported by CBM Australia and Australian Government through the Australian Government NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP),. Social workers, at home teachers and physiotherapists have been working with Rodel and Jundel over the past two years and have seen remarkable results. Before at the age of three Jundel was unable to lift his head, close his hands or turn to his side. With support from the project, the physiotherapy sessions have helped Jundel to sit up, stand with the help of a handrail and grip cups, spoons and pencils. Jundel is very active with lots of energy, and Rodel is so happy that he is improving.

Before the project, Rodel didn’t know anyone else who had a child with a disability. He felt isolated and alone. However, since joining the project he has a network of other parents with children with disabilities who are supportive and are there for each other.  It has also been a great way for Jundel to socialise with other children his age.

Rodel and the project team are now working on Jundel’s speech and motor skills. They believe with the right therapy over time, he will be able to start speaking.

CBM’s partner is supporting the restoration of Jundel’s health and also his father Jundel’s sense of community.

Join CBM’s Prayer Partners and pray with us:

Loving God,
We pray for families to be restored and renewed through your grace.
For parents of children with a disability,
May they be encouraged in faith and perseverance to overcome barriers to acceptance and inclusion.
For children with disabilities,
May they have access to health services and inclusive education.
May they be loved and valued as equal members of their community.
We pray in Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Bible Passage – Matthew 15:21-28

“Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.”

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