“Then he told her, "For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone." Mark 7:29-30These are the final words from an encounter between Jesus and a pagan woman. Perhaps you know the story: Jesus leaves Israel and lays low in a foreign city. A Gentile woman seeks him out and cries for mercy on behalf of her demonized daughter. It looks as though she will be sent away empty, but after an infamous exchange with the Jewish Messiah, she returns home to find her daughter healed. Commentators have made much of the exchange: “healing is the children’s bread; humble yourself in prayer;” or even “don’t take offense when it seems God is against you.”
When I meditate on this story I am faced with a different question. Why did the woman leave? She was aggressive enough to find Jesus even when he wanted to keep his location a secret. She broke into his beach house and annoyed everyone in the room. She was a woman who will not be denied. From our perspective Jesus answered rudely yet she refused to be dismissed--until he says “you may go, the demon has left your daughter.”
We know the outcome: Jesus healed her daughter from where he sat. When Jesus uttered the words the room did not light up with the glory of God. There was no evidence of a miracle in the room. Other healing stories show people pleading that Jesus hurry to the bedside of those in need. Even his best friends Mary and Martha complained that if Jesus had only come sooner Lazarus would not have died. Yet this foreigner was content to walk away on the strength of his word.
Here’s my suggested meditation this week: would I have been satisfied with only his word? This woman knew when to pray, and she knew when to quit. When I put myself in the story I have to admit I may not have been so easily satisfied. Would I have insisted, “No! Please come now and lay your hands on my child”?
Let's consider these questions: When I pray, do I leave room for Jesus to speak to me? Will I trust him when he does? Am I satisfied with only his word?