In this story, Jesus left the Jewish area of Galilee for the seaport of Tyre, a pagan Gentile area. This was a very un-Jewish and un-rabbinical thing to do, but He knew there was a desperate mother there. Notice the verbs describing her: she heard about Him, came, fell at his feet, and begged His help. Yet Jesus answered her not a word. Her response to His non-response was to keep crying for mercy.
Desperate people do desperate things. When you’re desperate you don’t care what people think, nor do you give up easily. Jesus finally said, in summary, “I’ve been sent to the lost sheep of Israel. My mission is the Jews. Why take the food of children and give it to dogs?” The word dog would be better translated, little dog or puppy. “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their puppy.”
Jesus was not being unkind, but making a theological point—His first priority was the Jewish people. “Yes, Lord,” the woman replied, “but even the puppies under the table get some crumbs.” In other words, “What you’re saying is true, but I don’t need the full meal. Just a few crumbs will be sufficient.”
Can you sense this woman’s faith? Jesus did. “Woman,” He said, “you have great faith!” The Greek word is μεγας (megˊ-as), source of the English prefix mega. This woman had mega-faith! From this story, notice the characteristics of mega-faith:
Mega-faith does not deny the problem. It is not the power of positive thinking or a way of looking at life through rose-colored glasses. Mega-faith is realistic, acknowledging the challenges, difficulties, struggles, and sufferings.
- Mega-faith goes directly to the source of blessing. As soon as she heard of Christ, she came and fell at His feet. We sometimes depend too much on our own abilities and resources. But great faith knows that beyond our own resources is the source of all power and blessing—God Himself! (See Heb. 4:14–16.)
- Mega-faith throws itself at the feet of Jesus. This was an act of submission, carrying the idea of abandonment to the purpose, plan, and power of God. She didn’t come with her own plan and ask Jesus to bless it. She said, “Lord, I give this to You.” It’s frightening to give up control, but when we yield control to Christ, what freedom comes!
- Mega-faith is persistent. At first, Jesus doesn’t answer this woman; and when He finally did answer her, His tone was discouraging. But she kept begging. We should always pray and not faint. Prayer and faith persist, even when God seems to respond not a word.
- Mega-faith repeats the word of God. This woman took what Jesus said, repeated it back to Him, then added a request to it. Great faith is anchored in Scripture.
- Mega-faith responds with submission. “Yes, Lord,” the woman said. Those are two very important words in our prayer vocabulary. They acknowledge Him who is in charge, like Jesus in the Garden, “. . . not my will, but Your will be done.” Great faith surrenders the outcome to God, Who knows what is best for us.
- Mega-faith is always rewarded. Going home, this woman found her child whole and the demon gone. Great faith is always rewarded with divine intervention which comes either through a miracle or through a specific message from God that enables us on the journey.
The beauty of this story is that it was not the faith of the demon-possessed girl that brought healing, it was the faith of her loving mother. If you can’t muster mega-faith, learn to trust in the faith of those around you. God honors their faith on your behalf. Never underestimate the prayers and faith of others in your behalf. God, grant us great faith. Amen!