When Nothing Produces Something

“Lord, help me!”—Matthew 15:25 (NKJV)

I know moms who use the words of the Syrophoenician woman as they pray for their children. I, myself, have cried out to Jesus, “I’ve made mistakes, Lord. But I am here now begging You to save my son for “even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table” (Matthew 15:27 NKJV).

Her story begins as Jesus traveled to the region of Tyre and Sidon. “And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed’” (Matthew 15:22 NKJV). Matthew describes her as a Canaanite. Scholars suggest Matthew intended to note her degenerate pedigree as a Canaanite—a former enemy of Israel.

Yet, at first, “He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying ‘Send her away, for she cries out after us” (Matthew 15:23 NKJV). Then, Jesus said something many people can’t fathom: “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24 NKJV). In other words, she was a Gentile, and He would not help her. Yeah, I know . . . Jesus said this? That’s harsh! It isn’t if we look at the end result: (spoiler alert) Jesus healed the daughter. But the end result wasn’t the only reason Jesus was there.

The woman was recorded as coming to Jesus, worshiping Him and crying, “Lord, help me!” And that opened up the twofold opportunity Jesus was waiting for. He answered her again: “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs” (Matthew 15:26 NKJV).

Some might have given up. But this woman knew who Jesus was. She addressed Him as “Lord, Son of David.” It was a pivotal exchange between them when she replied, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

In a clever way, she used Jesus’ own words to agree she would not take “the children’s bread,” but would be a “little dog” if only He would be her Master. She would accept anything He gave her. Her persistent faith and worship of Jesus led Him to say, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire” (Matthew 15:28 NKJV).

Like me, you might think you’ve made so many mistakes that you’re not worthy to be heard by God, let alone be helped or have a deep desire met. Yet what you’ve done and who you are doesn’t influence how God feels about you. His desire is for you to know Him and worship Him. And the nothingness of yourself you embrace may result in the utmost something you seek.

DIG: What was so unique about the Syrophoenician woman’s faith?

DISCOVER: Although Jesus only performed this one miracle in the region of Tyre and Sidon (read Acts 21:1-7), note the cities mentioned there and the disciples they found. What can you deduce about the legacy of this woman’s great faith?

DO: Removing our image of who we are is one way to recognize who Jesus is. Spend time pouring out yourself and worshiping Him. We must never stop “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2 ESV).