But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Mark 7:28 (Read Mark 7:24-30 for full context).
It’d been a rough year with COVID and illness. My father almost died of COVID. My uncle died from cancer. I had three cousins and an aunt get very sick with COVID. Two sisters survived breast cancer. Another sister’s mental and physical capacity, and my father’s, is succumbing to Huntington’s disease which means one brother-in-law and my mother are in full throes of exhausting and all-encompassing caregiving.
So, this last summer, when I was discussing the overwhelming feeling of moving from Colorado, this, uh, overly-self-sufficient human being (yes, me) who is also a pastor said to her sister, “I’d pray for God’s strength for this move, but I feel like I’m going to have to rely on my own and whoever I’ve got to help me unload the truck. Besides, God’s got too much on God’s plate right now. My move is pittance compared to everything else.”
With a sliver of mild indignation, my sister replied, “You mean to tell me the all-powerful, God-of-the-universe isn’t going to have enough power to help you or listen to your prayer?”
“Ugh,” I told her. “Even pastors need sisters who remind them that God’s grace and loving care covers them, too. Thanks for putting me back into place.”
Take note of the boldness of the Syrophoenician woman’s indignation at Jesus’s denial to heal her daughter. She seems to put Jesus in his place. Jesus has just insulted her after she begs him to cast a demon out of her daughter. Her words suggest the following: “Crumbs, Jesus. I believe in God’s power and abundance of healing that you have been offering…so much so, even you’ve got enough power to heal a Gentile’s daughter like me. Just say the word.”
Right now, the whole world is hurting. From Afghanistan to Haiti to Floridians facing Hurricane Ida to the West Coast facing wildfire…along with so…many…deaths from COVID. The illness you may be facing…the anxiety pressing down on you…the inadequacy you feel to face the road ahead…or just plain sadness…take it from the Syrophoenician women. No matter what challenge you face and no matter who you are, your problems matter to Jesus, the Son of the God of the universe. Though we may not have full healing all the time, God is grieving with us all.
Remember the feeding of the 5,000 with leftovers? Crumbs. There IS enough of Jesus’s love to go around. There is a heart and an understanding ear from the One Jesus tells us to call on like a Father.
Plus, God has given each other to lean on, to ask for prayer, to cry with, and to even feel a bit angry with God at all the suffering around us and in our very own lives. Thanks be to God that there is enough of God to go around.
Not to mention, God might call on you to be an answer to prayer. For Christ invites us to also be listening ears, to pray for and sit with each other, to rally for justice and to be generous with those less fortunate. You, too, get to offer Christ’s presence through your presence. You don’t have to do this alone.