“Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”  –Matthew 15:28

When I accepted Jesus Christ as a 10-year-old little boy, we were living on a naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. We had a church building on the base and that was where we went on Sunday mornings, but there was no place to meet Sunday nights. So my parents and a few other Christians organized an outdoor service under a metal canopy. It was there that I came to realize my need of the Savior. Looking back now, some 58 years later, I realize how blessed I was that everyone was happy for my decision. Even as I was being discipled in the Word on the foundations of biblical Christianity, my family and friends fully encouraged me in my spiritual growth. Life was good.

Probably that is your story, too, but it is not everyone’s story. It is not unusual to meet other Christians who have quite a different testimony. They came to the Lord when they were surrounded by people and circumstances that said, “Don’t go forward. Don’t step out. Don’t think for a minute that this is a good thing.” Life was against them.

Great faith is often measured by the obstacles it overcomes. Mustard seed faith is not nearly as beautiful as the lilies of the field. Great faith is not always measured by what it accomplished; sometimes great faith is recognized by what it overcomes. This is the faith of the Syrophenician woman who believed that Jesus Christ could deliver her daughter from a demon; the daughter was “grievously vexed with a devil.” (Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30)

What was against this woman coming to our Lord?

First of all, her birth was against her. Matthew tells us that she was a woman of Canaan; Mark calls her a Syrophenician woman. Centuries before her encounter with Jesus, her race was one of those that was to be exterminated. They were the enemies of the children of Israel. This conflict would be similar to the hatred and bitterness the Jews felt towards the conquering Romans. People on both sides were trained in prejudice. Her neighbors would have stood against her going to Jesus and turning against her own false gods. Here she was at the feet of Jesus as a traitor to her own people. She overcame her own people to find the Messiah.

Secondly, her own knowledge would have been against her. She was a Greek and even if she knew Jehovah’s name it would not have been in a favorable way. The Jewish hope was not her hope to claim; she was regarded as a stranger by the Jews. This woman had never sung David’s psalms or read Isaiah’s foretelling of a suffering Savior. Whatever she may have heard about Jesus must have been hearsay and rumors. When Martha and Mary sent for Jesus, when their brother died, it was out of a loving relationship with Him. There was nothing like this with this woman.

Thirdly, the disciples were against her. They told Jesus, “Send her away.” They sound irritated that this foreigner would dare interrupt them. It may have actually been more like anger. “Hold your peace, lady. Be quiet and move back out of our way.” But this did not discourage her either. She kept coming.

Fourthly, Christ seems to be against her. He says quiet plainly, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Not being a Jew, it was not yet her time and these words must have shot fear in her heart. The Bible says that she came and worshipped Him and said, “Lord, help me.” Still the Lord replies, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” Perhaps this is the time she needs to get back on her feet and walk away; who could blame her after being referred to as a dog. But this Greek woman is determined to not give up and she turns a taunt into an argument, “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

Was life against this woman coming to Jesus Christ? Her race was. Her limited knowledge was. The disciples were. And it seems that Jesus was, too. But it was at this point that Jesus’ heart was stirred at her determination and so great a faith. This was what I call, “Pressing on; never giving up.” And we read the sweet words, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” And her daughter was made whole “from that very hour.”

Perhaps you can relate to this woman a little. Have you prayed over and over for a need to be met in your life? Did your faith take you to a higher level than mine did when you came to trust Him? Such faith always touches the heart of God. Child of God, do not give up on God.

Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep knocking. And do so with great faith and great hope.