This Mother’s Day I was given the honor of preaching at Generation Church in Jupiter. After rewriting my sermon several times, I still felt like I had not landed on what the Lord really wanted to say to parents that day. Baffled, I sat stumped in my sunroom late one night. Suddenly, I thought, “What did Jesus say to parents?”
What conversations did He have with moms and dads throughout the four gospels? Not surprisingly, then just as now, there were many desperate parents eager for help and answers with the challenges they faced with their children. Some of them were physical health issues and many of them were mental struggles and even demon possession.
Interestingly enough, I noticed that out of every parent that came to him, he never turned one down. Jesus never turned a mother or father away. He never blamed the parent for the situation they were in, and He never questioned what had led up to the problem itself. He simply fixed it. The healing did not rest on the faith of the parent or the faith of the child. In some cases the parent believed, in other cases the parent struggled with doubt, but at least they earnestly sought help from the source of all power, healing and help.
An unrelenting mother
Jesus said plenty to parents, and as I studied through the stories I landed on one mother that really stuck out to me: the Syro-Phoenician mother from Canaan with a demon possessed daughter. Her story can be read in Mark 7 and Matthew 15.
Several ways the Word tells us that she was “unqualified” to get to Jesus. Greek or Hellenistic, she most likely believed that any god was god or a god. She was described as coming from the hills of Canaan where it could be that she was involved in prostitution. At any rate she had come a long distance to see this Man in hopes that He could heal her demon possessed daughter.
Jesus had gone to Tyre to get away. Tyre was a lovely (heathen) beach town. I’m imagining it somewhat like an ancient South Beach or Las Vegas. Anything goes. Everything’s good.
She approached the now famous healer, who was desperately trying to go unnoticed, and attempted her best “righteous religious” talk. The healer ignored her.
She then went hard after his followers, the band of 12 rag tag boys to men among whom were failed fisherman, ex-tax collectors and zealots. She was embarrassingly loud, beyond shame and humiliation, and without apology as she shouted, screamed, cried and begged for help on behalf of her daughter who wasn’t even present for the healing. Annoyed, the disciples came and asked Jesus to please fix whatever ailed this woman so she would leave them alone.
Nice, guys. Way to handle an opportunity for ministry.
“It’s not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs…” Jesus again shunned her and called her a dog.
But this woman was unrelenting. “You’re right Lord. But even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.”
She acknowledged she wasn’t of proper decent — of the house of Israel — but that even as unfit as she was to receive of His goodness, healing her daughter was nothing for Him. It was merely a crumb of what He was capable of. She knew and believed He was able to save her daughter…whether the child was present or not.
Finally He responded, “Oh woman, great is your faith! What you want is what you get!”
As I pondered over this scenario: Jesus ignoring this woman, calling her a dog, drawing her out and letting her humiliate herself in front of so many for a healing she so desperately wanted for her daughter, I realized something.
Jesus knew exactly the kind of cloth this woman was cut from. He knew she wouldn’t give up. He knew she would not relent until she got what she wanted for her kid. And what she wanted, more than anything, was a healing.
Fight even when it looks bleak
There are seasons in our lives as parents that we must fight even when the outcome looks bleak and uncertain. Maybe we have a two year old, and we haven’t slept a solid night since their birth, and we are desperate for shuteye. Maybe our preteen is hormonal and lacking self control. Perhaps our teenager now has the freedom of a car, and we fear their decision making. Maybe we even have an adult child who has struggled with addictions for over a decade, and we just don’t know where else to turn or what to do. We fear what seems like the inevitable knock on our door from the Sheriff’s department telling us of our child’s demise. Because if there is one thing that parenting 15 kids over 20 years has taught me, it’s this: no matter how old they are, they never stop being our baby. They never cease being our child. Two years old or 25, temper tantrums or addictions, our child is still our darling that we desire to love and protect.
If you find yourself today a lot like that Canaanite woman struggling with a child who is beyond tormented, then mimic her behavior. Keep coming to Jesus. Be shameless about getting help. Pound the doors of heaven with your supplications, and seek every friend, family member or clergy you can to pray for your child. Don’t stop until you get what you want: health, peace, joy, deliverance. It’s never too late, it’s never too far gone, no tear is wasted, and no prayer goes unanswered. Just remember, Jesus never turned down a parent in the gospels and He won’t turn you down either. Fiercely loving someone means we fight. We fight in prayer and let me tell you something…He wins every time.
Submit a question for consideration in a future issue at GoodNewsFL.org/AskAColumnist. Or visit Lyette Reback’s inspirational parenting website at Believewithme.com where you can find encouragement, hope and real answers for your parenting challenges.