Monday, October 22, 2012

A Desperate Mama

Have you ever thought your child was going to die?  I don't mean in a fit of temper you were going to have to kill them. All of us have had that humorous thought.  I mean have you had a moment or more than one, where you honestly didn't know if your child would live or die?  I have.  Three times in the 4 years she has been in this world, I have honestly wondered if my younger daughter would live or die.  They are three of the worst moments of my life.

When my baby was still a toddler she wandered out of our house.  Somehow she pulled the doorknob, opened the door and then shut it behind her. Talking with a friend, we assumed she was playing quietly in her room. We lived in an urban apartment building beside a drop off-20 feet down to a busy road.   When we realized she was gone, I ran through the grassy yard behind our home and peered over the drop off. I thought I would see her body broken at the bottom.  I was desperate.  I would have begged anyone, bargained anything, not to see that horror.

I was not the first desperate mama. Matthew and Mark both record the story of an anguished woman who came to Jesus.  He had withdrawn to Tyre from the crowds which were constantly swarming him those days.  A Gentile, she found him there and cried, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed" (Matthew 15:22).  She didn't just say it once or twice. No, in the fashion of the widow and the unjust judge, she repeated herself over and over again (Luke 18:1-8). She kept calling until the disciples begged Jesus to answer her just to shut her up! (Matthew 15:23)

She pleaded for her daughter's life.  She was desperate enough that Jesus' surprising reply did not deter her.  "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," he said (Matthew 15:24). She fell at his feet and kept begging.  He tried again to turn her away with harsh words, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs" (Matthew 15:26). This is the same Jesus who healed EVERY person who came and asked him in the gospels.  He refused to do even one miracle for the sign seeking Pharisees but he never once turned down a single sick person or their family member (Mark 8). His answer seems so cold and out of character.

As harsh as it seems, it wasn't nearly enough to stop her.  "Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters' table," she said (Matthew 15:27). Then Jesus said the most curious thing of all, "Oh woman, your faith is great" (Matthew 15:28). What faith had she shown?  There was some persistence in her faith.  The persistence of great distress I suppose.  More than that though she had a deep belief in the compassion of Jesus.  Being ignored, being annoying, being rejected, being compared to a dog, it did not change her mind.  She believed that Jesus not only had the power, he had the heart to help her.

When I crossed that yard, I did not find my baby's body at the bottom of the drop-off.  I shouted, and searched and cried and finally she was found by a friend 2 stories up at a neighbor's house eating cookies.  I didn't know whether to spank her or hug her.  I settled on hug her now, and spank her every time she touched the door!  My prayers were heard and my life went mostly back to normal.  Moments like that though leave me wondering.  Do I have enough faith?  If the unthinkable had happened, if in a moment of inattention we had inadvertently allowed our child to die, could I have gone on trusting in the goodness, the compassion of God?

In our moments of terror, we can know two things.  God has the power.  He urges us to persistence in our prayers.  He compares himself to a loving Father ready to give good gifts not cruel tricks to His children (Matthew 7:8-12).  He has the power to solve the problem.   God also has the compassion.  Even when we are turned down, when our worst nightmares come true, we can choose to believe, like this Gentile woman, in our Savior's heart.  We can know that the Savior, who wept at the tomb of His friend, is ever moved by compassion* (John 11).  He hates death even more than we do; he loves our children even more than we do, and he is moved with compassion when we're scared, when we're desperate and when our hearts are broken. 

*In the following verses we can see a sample of the times that the gospel writers attribute some action of Jesus to him feeling compassion:  Matthew 9:36,14:14,15:32, Mark 1:41, Luke 7:13

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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