Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” (Matthew 15:25)
Dogs are persistent, aren’t they? Barking at squirrels, chasing bunnies, pawing and begging, all the while giving you “those eyes” – they don’t give up ’til they get what they’re after.
Persistence is a trait many people find annoying, but God wants us to come with our questions and needs. The more, the better! It reminds me of the story in Matthew 15:22-28. As a churched kid, this exchange of dialog bothered me because it seemed like Jesus was being mean. And we know Jesus isn’t mean.
The story goes something like this: a Canaanite woman (a gentile) cried out to Jesus for mercy on her daughter who was severely demon-possessed. But He answered her not a word. The disciples urged Him to get rid of her because she was yelling as she followed (loud, distracting). So, Jesus explained that He was sent only to the house of Israel. I imagine that felt like, “You’re not Jewish; no miracles for you.” Yet, how did she respond? “Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me!’” (v. 15). Not only did she continue to come, she worshipped and asked again!
Jesus replied (rejection number two?), “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” Ouch! Having Jesus compare her to a dog in what appeared to be a final dismissal seems like adding insult to injury. But she persisted with: “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Finally, to this Jesus said, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” From that very hour, her daughter was healed. In this exchange with the woman, Jesus’ purpose was never to demean or dismiss her but to test her faith. And she passed with flying colors!
I find it interesting that dogs are only ever mentioned negatively in the Bible. Yet, God has used my fur-babies to visualize biblical truths for me, such as: resting in His promises (puppy literally laying across my open Bible), following closely for connection (not treats), a natural tendency to return to vomit (habitual sins), and sitting in obedience at the Master’s feet. God even used my dogs to reinforce a promise during construction on my home. The buzz of the saw and bang of the nail gun left them shaking in their fur. One pawed my leg furiously, while the other barked incessantly, until I scooped them both onto my lap, wrapped my arms tightly around them and whispered in their ears, “I can’t stop the noise, but I can hold you.” Bam! There it was, God’s voice in my ear. Of course, He could stop the chaos and fears in my life, just like I could halt the work on my home. But I won’t. If I did, the job wouldn’t be completed. And this construction has a purpose with a beautiful end.
More than a pesky pup or devoted dog, we should pursue Jesus like this unwavering woman whose faith pleased the Lord. What is your greatest need today? Persistence in prayer is practicing presence. And both provide peace for the project. Push through pain and fear, past perceived silence or rejection, to get to the Father. Keep going to your Daddy. Let Him hold you and whisper calming truth. In trembling, praise God, knowing the Perfecter will finish all He starts.