Four Strikes and You’re Still Not Out

“Yes, it is, Lord,” she said.  “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”  — Matthew 15:27

Time after time over the past couple of years, I’ve heard a very similar story when talking about the Lord.  “I used to go to church,” “I just don’t believe that stuff anymore,” and “I just don’t see God doing anything” are very common phrases people use.  I never can tell if they really believe what they are saying, or if they say it simply as an excuse to live as they please . . . it’s probably a little of both.  I remember being where they are now.  I felt the same way.  I’ve just never had the guts to not believe.  In my heart, I think I’ve pretty much always known that God is up there watching.  I’ve never really thought to get mad at Him for not doing things like I would.  

In Matthew 15:21 there begins a story about a gentile woman who comes and asks Jesus to heal her daughter.  She simply asks for mercy because “my daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” (v. 22).  Jesus chooses not to do anything in that very moment.  In fact, it appears that He is not going to do anything.  It seems like He doesn’t care and refuses to help.  I know we Americans love the “three strikes and I’m done with you” rule.  But, if this story is any indication, you might want to give the Lord at least four.

Strike One

Jesus did not answer a word – Matthew 15:23a

There it is.  Silence on the part of our Lord.  Does He even care?  Why won’t He answer me?  I know He has answered the same request for others!  Is He even worth serving?  Is He really there?  All things many American Christians say when they don’t get their wishes granted immediately.

Strike Two

His disciples came to Him and urged Him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out to us!”  — Matthew 15:23b

Here is where it gets a little harder to keep our trust in Jesus.  Why?  Because His followers are mean! How many people do not go to church because of the religious hypocrites in the church?  I try not to, but I can think of people who claim to be Jesus followers . . . but they’re just mean.  I can be a little merciful to the disciples in the story because they have only been following Jesus for three years at the most.  I know it takes time, but when people who say they believe plot and scheme to discard me and/or my family, it hurts terribly.  Many times, it gives a lot of weak Christians the ammo they need to walk away from the faith altogether.  

Strike Three

He (Jesus) answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”  — Matthew 15:24

Here is the moment that doubt can really start to sink in.  “Maybe Jesus doesn’t heal people like me.  Maybe I’ve done too many bad things.  Maybe I just don’t have enough faith.”  Either way, people quit because they believe they are either excluded, or not good enough.  Yet, even hearing these words straight from our Lord Himself, the lady did not quit.

The woman came and knelt before Him, “Lord, help me!” she said. – Matthew 15:25

One translation said that she “worshiped.”  Something tells me she probably didn’t feel like kneeling or worshipping, but she did it anyway.  I try so hard to keep this in mind.  When I feel like my world has fallen apart, worship Him anyway.  Ask for help anyway.

Strike Four

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”  — Matthew 15:26

Ok, now You’re just being mean, Jesus.  I mean, I expect it from Your disciples, they are only human, but You . . . You’re supposed to be above all that!  You are not being like I think You should be right now!  How many of us Americans would have been flat out offended at this point?  Many might have backtalked or even picked a fight with the Lord!  Still, she remained.

“Yes, it is, Lord,” she said.  “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.”  –Matthew 15:26

This woman was immovable. It was an amazing faith that she had in Jesus to not be shaken out.  She knew that there was absolutely no healing apart from Him.  She didn’t care how it seemed that He was, or how it seemed His followers were.  She was staying with the one who had the power to heal and change her situation.  

I’ll let you look up Matthew 15:28 to see how it all worked out.

Lord, thank You so much that I’ve had 31 years of growing in You and in the Holy Spirit.  The more I follow You and do the things You say, the easier it gets because You have turned so many situations around for my good.  I’m sorry that I forget what it was like to follow You when I was young in the faith.  Doubts so easily came to my mind, and I would often give up so easily.  Please help this new generation of young Christians to stick with You no matter what.  Make Yourself real to them just as You have to me and so many others.  Help them to never give up on You.  Help a new generation of skeptics come to You.  Change their lives, Lord, and create new hearts in people who let their lights shine before men.  As always, may all who read today glorify You, our Father in heaven.  Amen

About wednesdaymorningdevotional

I am just a nobody from Salem, South Carolina. I have been a math teacher now for 23 years. I have been publishing devotionals every Wednesday morning for about 10 years now. Thanks for stopping by.
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