It’s been a while since I’ve written in this space, but what better way than to dive right in with 5 Minute Friday! If you are unaware, 5 Minute Friday is when women from all over all write about a one word prompt. It’s truly amazing the wide range of things one word can inspire. I hope you’ll hop over and check it out HERE.
5 Minute Friday: TEST
When I saw the word for today, I thought it was quite a coincidence. I was working on my Sunday school lesson this week. I’ve been teaching about women in the Bible, and I am also reading through the Gospels, personally, at the moment. I really had no idea which woman I should teach about in my upcoming Sunday school class and then I stumbled over the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15. I love it when God meets me in the crossroads of two studies like that!
I was familiar with the story, but as I read through it again – more slowly – I was struck by the uncharacteristic way Jesus responded to this woman. He was, dare I say it, kind of rude. First, the woman is crying out for mercy and He simply ignores her. This is so opposite of how He normally responded to people, that it made me stop and scratch my head.
Then, when the disciples ask Jesus to do something since this woman was following along, crying after them (and wasn’t that embarrassing?), Jesus tells them that He was sent to the lost sheep of Israel. In other words, this woman who was a Gentile, was not His intended audience.
Again, this made me stop and scratch my head. Jesus was the man who ate with tax collectors. He interacted with prostitutes and treated them with kindness and compassion. He spoke to the Samaritan woman (who was half Gentile and half Jewish, which to some Jews at the time was worse than being wholly Gentile). Why would He deny this woman the help she so desperately needed for her daughter who was demon possessed.
The woman persisted, coming nearer and bowing down and worshiping Jesus, again asking Jesus to help her. Again, Jesus’ response is not what you would expect. He asks her if He should give His children’s bread to the dogs. To understand this comment, you have to get into the mindset of this time period. The Israelites or Jews were considered God’s children. Gentiles were generally despised by Jewish people and often referred to as dogs.
The woman responds with one of the best one-liners in the New Testament. “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Notice she doesn’t defend herself by saying, “How can you call me a dog when I’m coming to you for help?”
It’s only in verse 28 that Jesus seems more familiar to us. He responds by praising her great faith and granting her request to heal her daughter.
As read and reread this story, I was still a bit puzzled by Jesus’ response, so I turned to my favorite commentator Matthew Henry. He pointed out that Jesus was testing this woman’s faith, and the reason He did that is because He knew the outcome.
Well, call me slow, but that statement just hit me like the proverbial lightening bolt. I don’t know about you, but I often fail the tests that God brings my way. I don’t respond the way I should, or I out and out throw a royal tantrum.
It hit me rather forcefully that God tests us KNOWING THE OUTCOME. I mean, I should know this. I know God is sovereign and He knows the beginning and the end, but I am always sucked into the finite thinking that is my lot as a human.
God knows the outcomes of the tests He puts in my path which means He knows the ones I’ll fail. He sends them my way anyway. Because I know God works all things for my good, I can trust in the fact that even the tests I fail in some way work for my good.
I am reminded that it was only AFTER Peter failed so spectacularly by denying Christ 3x did he become such an effective leader in the church.
Maybe the whole purpose of tests is not just the “lesson” we are supposed to learn, but the overall idea of trusting in a good God that loves me and wants the best for me.
What test do feel like you are failing? Know that God already knows the outcome – whether passing or failing – and is working it for your good!