Today we welcome Susan Hitchman as a regular contributor to UTCOP. Please give her a warm welcome – read her bio below and visit her blog.
Is a Crumb Enough?
by Susan Hitchman
I was thinking of the story in Mark 7:24-30 (and Matt. 15:21-28), entitled “Jesus and the Syrophoenician Canaanite Woman” in my Bible. I have been intrigued by this story for many years. It goes like this:
Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
“First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”
The woman is plucky; she asks Jesus for help, but is not dissuaded by his potentially offensive metaphor of children/bread/dogs. Instead, she rises to the occasion and applies the metaphor to her advantage. Rather than being put off by her bold and assertive manner, He grants her request because of her boldness.
I like that interaction between Jesus and the woman; she knows she desperately needs Jesus and she will not allow herself to be offended. I can almost see Jesus with piercing eyes and the beginnings of a smile challenging her request with his off-putting rebuff. I imagine her own shrewd look as she phrases her cheeky reply. With a slight nod and murmuring “touché!” under his breath perhaps, Jesus grants her request. He directs her home, where she finds her prayer granted, her daughter healed.
I’m thinking this story is included in the gospels for a reason. A good reason. And I’m thinking I’ve overlooked this story far too long. Many times I’ve asked God to teach me to pray, and I think there’s something important in this story that answers at least a ‘crumb’ of that prayer.
“For that reply”, Jesus enjoins.
For her reply, the woman gets exactly that for which she asks. What is it about her reply? I’m thinking I really need to know what it is about her reply that touches Jesus.
Her reply illustrates her belief that the smallest crumb from the Bread of Life is more than sufficient to meet her most desperate need. She is saying He is Omnipotent God. For that reply, he gives her the ‘crumb’ she needs.
Redeemer of All, Bread of Life;
Of crumbs from your table
of blessing and mercy and grace
I must eat or be starved;
My hunger is slaked
by your Life-bread alone.
Let me eat of your fare,
For I hunger of You,
Hear my desperate plea,
O fill me or I die.
Sue seeks to integrate the adventure of following Christ with her roles as wife, mother of five, co-leader of a women’s Bible study group and parent prayer group, and retreat speaker. She is a member of The Word Guild and NCWA. Outdoor pursuits (cycling, gardening, hiking, & kayaking) remind her of God’s creative bent and constant presence. She writes to encourage others in their journey of faith in God. Visit her blog at: Word Made Flesh.