Being Persistent Pays

A CRUMB OF FAITH (Mark 7:24-30)

I am a Greek woman and I lived in Tyre. It was a Syrian and Phoenician country. Alexander the Great had left some wounded behind and I was one of their offspring. I was also one of the misfortunate mothers that had a sick daughter. My little girl had serious mental problems. She was diagnosed has having a demon. This demon tortured her day and night by throwing her about as if she were a piece of furniture. She would rip out her hair and scream in agony, “Mommy, Mommy help me!” Mommy was helpless and began to hurt with her. I would grab her and hold her tightly while her little body shook like a leave in the wind. And when the seizure stopped, she would throw herself on the floor and then huddle in a corner in fear of the demon that was getting ready to attack her again. I had tried all the healers and magicians, even exorcists and soothsayers. I prayed and sacrificed to many gods to no avail. The demon was too strong and I was at the end of my strength and wits.

One day, I heard whispers about a man in Galilee that was casting out demons. His name was Jesus. He was traveling in a group and visiting different towns and villages. He was Jewish and attended mostly His people. But there were rumors that He helped some Roman officer that had a sick servant. I began to set my hope on Him and determined to meet Him when He would come to Tyre. It did not take long that Jesus had come and was staying with a Jewish family. We were not welcome in a Jewish home and I already had a compulsive reputation. My only chance to meet Jesus was to wait outside and throw myself at His feet when He came out. So, I found myself at His feet and cried out, “Sir, have mercy on me! My daughter is being tortured by a demon.” Jesus acted as if He did not hear me and walked past me and on. I kept after Him and continued begging for help. Some of His followers ordered me to be silent and they also begged Jesus to silence me. Then, He spoke to His followers and said, “I am sent to the lost sheep of Israel only.” I understood what it meant to be lost, but that did not deter me from seeking help for my child. I kept throwing myself at Jesus’ feet and kept pleading. It hurt even more when he added, “It would not be proper to take the bread from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

It was harsh and humiliating to be compared to dogs and not at all what I expected from a holy man. But I could not let my Greek pride get in the way of the cry for help for my daughter. I begged and pleaded without thinking, “Sir, do not dogs eat the crumbs children drop off their tables? My question stopped Jesus instantly. It was as if He had expected for me to be persistent in order to make a point that contradicted what He had said before about not getting involved with the likes of me. Now all the people present, particularly His Jewish followers that had no place for us, were curious what Jesus would do. I too feared that I would be reprimanded for interrupting this man of God. Instead, gentle and kind words came from the lips of Jesus. Clearly he said, “O woman, great is your faith, be it unto you as you believe.” He turned and continued on His way with His crowd behind Him. He did not wait to see what would happen to me because He too believed in me. Apparently, my persistence had substantiated for the people that were with him what faith was all about. He was using me to teach His disciple and followers how to believe. No explanation was needed.¬†

Jesus’ words brought instant healing to my daughter and me. We both felt a strange feeling overpowering us and bringing joy into our lives. It felt as if a dark cloud was being removed from us and sunshine began to surround us. I was so completely overwhelmed in being healed that I was not quick enough to thank Jesus for healing us. Then I began to wonder why he did not give us a chance to express our appreciation. I did not see myself as a person of great faith. At best, it was no more than a crumb. Why would Jesus tell everybody that I had great faith? What had I done that was so great? For quite a time I could not determine what made my faith great. It would be my happy daughter that made me realize that it was persistence. I did not give up. And that is why Jesus healed my child and praised me for my faith. In that sense, I have become an example for everyone with little faith to persist in seeking help where it can be found. I was not waiting for Jesus to come to me. I went after him. It was not the amount of faith. It was my persistence.